Be Careful: Baby Animal Season Is Here


by Niall Fitzgerald

The Locust Valley-based Volunteers for Wildlife wants everyone to be careful this Spring, because or trees, gardens and woods are full of vulnerable baby animals.

Every year, thousands of injured and orphaned baby animals on Long Island from Queens to Western Suffolk are brought to the Wildlife Hospital at the Bailey Arboretum in Locust Valley, run by the Volunteers for Wildlife ("VFW").

These wild babies include baby cottontail rabbits - called "kits" - injured during yard work; orphaned baby opossums - called "joeys" - whose mother was hit by a car; or baby hawks - called "eyas" - which have fallen from a nest.

After months of intensive care at the VFW’s Rehabilitation Hospital these wild baby animals are released, when they are deemed fully independent and able to thrive in the wild.

It was during “Baby Season” twenty-one years ago that VFW got a call about a baby Red-tailed Hawk, who had fallen out of his nest.

When the baby hawk arrived at the Wildlife Hospital, his neck was twisted so badly that his ear sat directly over his shoulder. Because of his young age and the amount of human contact needed to treat such a severe injury, this baby hawk became imprinted on people, and could never be released back into the wild. It was soon decided that this little baby would join the VFW Education Department as an "Animal Ambassador."

He was socialized with the VFW's Wildlife Educators, and trained to wear "jesses" - the little leashes that captive raptors wear on their ankles - and taught how to perch on a glove.

As the new Animal Ambassador, the baby hawk needed a name, and “Baby” just stuck.

Baby has now been traveling all across Long Island on education programs alongside VFW's other Animal Ambassadors, telling the story of Long Island’s wildlife to the public, ever since.

Volunteers for Wildlife’s Rehabilitation Hospital & Education Center is located at Bailey Arboretum in Locust Valley. Approximately 2,300 injured and orphaned animals are treated every year at the Hospital.

Countless more are helped through the VFW Hotline, which receives over 10,000 calls each year. VFW also offers educational programs to schools, scouts, libraries, community organizations and private parties, and can be contacted at www.volunteersforwildlife.org.