2017-03-29 / Top News

CROW invites community to get wild for wildlife


A great horned owl at CROW. 
COURTESY PHOTO A great horned owl at CROW. COURTESY PHOTO If the idea of noshing on southern comfort food and libations and boogying to fun music with your family and friends to help raise money for injured wildlife appeals to you, then Sanibel is the place to be next week.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is hosting Southern Comfort, an agency fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at the Sanibel Community House.

CROW put together the event to help bring the community together for a fun evening and raise much-needed money for the nonprofit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation clinic.

“It’s kind of a celebration for the end of season,” said Brian Bohlman, the CROW marketing manager. “It’s one last time for people to have fun before they head back north.”

The fundraiser, sponsored by Coral Veterinary Clinic, features southern comfort food, complimentary southern style adult beverages, dancing, a DJ, games, prizes, live auction and raffle. Live auction items include Lunch with Heroes at the Sanibel Fire Rescue Department, a pizza party for 10 catered by the Sanibel Deli, a tour of four local microbreweries, a three-night getaway at the Shalimar on Sanibel, a private showing for 40 people at Island Cinema and dinner for four with a CROW doctor at IL Cielo on Sanibel. Cost of the fundraiser is $65.

CROW’S Lunch and Learn program offers a tour, an education session and lunch. 
COURTESY PHOTOS CROW’S Lunch and Learn program offers a tour, an education session and lunch. COURTESY PHOTOS The funds raised from the social function will help support the thousands of injured and uninsured wildlife patients that CROW treats annually.

Last year CROW treated 3,953 injured wildlife patients, according to Mr. Bohlman. And the number of patients for the nearly 50-year-old clinic is increasing yearly. Twenty years ago, CROW attended to 2,251 patients. Mr. Bohlman attributes the surge to loss of habitat and increase in people population.

Mammals such as raccoons, opossums and otters are often on the patient roster. Reptiles such as gopher tortoises, sea turtles, indigenous snakes and birds including pelicans, cormorants, eagles, osprey and various hawks also are regulars at the clinic.

A growing population puts wildlife at greater risk for being hit by vehicles, snagged and injured by tangled fishing line and hooks and other human-related challenges.

“More people means more encounters with wildlife,” Mr. Bohlman said.

A northern raccoon walks gingerly in a bath. A northern raccoon walks gingerly in a bath.

In order to help counter the people related dangers to wildlife, CROW focuses much resources and time to educating the public about the animals in the community and how to help prevent wildlife injuries. 

To help in this effort, CROW provides programs aimed at teaching the public about wildlife. At the CROW Education

Turtles are regulars at the clinic. Turtles are regulars at the clinic. Center, volunteers conduct daily presentations, tours of the facility and a speaker series to engage people. Fees are nominal.

For the Lunch and Learn program, participants pay $30 to have an in-depth experience and tour at CROW including lunch with Dr. Heather, Barron, the clinic’s hospital director.

To help educate the public a cadre of animal ambassadors are on hand. There are two lively opossums named Sneezy and Bashful, and then there’s Lola, a kestrel, a tiny hawk, who keeps a steady eye on visitors, and Sheldon, a gopher tortoise who relishes hibiscus flowers. Each of these ambassadors has an injury that makes it impossible for them to live in the wild, Mr. Bohlman said. Sneezy lost his tail, Bashful has neurological problems and Sheldon has no front claws for digging.

Mammals including otters often need care. Mammals including otters often need care. But the other patients at CROW are kept as far away from human interaction as possible in order for them, when healed, to be able to assimilate back to the wild.

CROW staff also makes it a focus to teach the public about native and nonnative animals and to know the difference. Inside of the Education Center tanks of various reptiles are available to see and learn about.

With updated exhibits, walks and new and engaging programs, CROW is poised to stave off the increase in injured wildlife due to human interaction.

“One of our biggest aims is to educate the public,” Mr. Bohlman said.

To learn more about CROW and its programming, see www.crowclinic.org. ¦

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