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Wildlife rescuers open their homes to orphaned animals during coronavirus shutdown

Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center staff go above and beyond to care for wildlife

Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center staff open their homes to orphaned squirrels that need round the clock feedings.
Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center staff open their homes to orphaned squirrels that need round the clock feedings. (SWVA Wildlife Center of Roanoke)

ROANOKE, Va. – Wildlife rescuers are going above and beyond to make sure animals still receive the care they need.

Although the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center needed to take safety precautions and close it’s doors to the public and volunteers, staff members like Virginia Tech student Hannahleah are going the extra mile to make it work.

That includes opening up her home to orphaned baby squirrels who need to be bottle fed around the clock.

The center posted on its Facebook page a video of her feeding one of the squirrels.

Interesting story tonight: these are unprecedented times and unprecedented measures need to be taken—and we’re all in this together. This is Hannaleah, a Virginia Tech student and staff member at the Center, who got a scholarship to study abroad in Ireland this spring and barely made it back to the United States amid the shutdowns involving the coronavirus. Because of her journeys overseas she is required to self-quarantine in case she was exposed to the virus during her time abroad despite not showing any symptoms or coming in contact with anyone known to be sick. Normally she would not be able to care for wildlife at home under our strict regulations but an emergency ruling by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is now allowing wildlife veterinary hospitals like ourselves to do what is normally unthinkable during these chaotic times—provide care for healthy orphaned animals outside of our main facility in order to prevent human to human transmission of COVID-19. Instead of having all our volunteers and staff members come to the Center and work in close contact with each other, the new emergency conditions allow us to designate only certain trained, skilled, and permitted individuals as remote care workers to minimize the number of people coming and going from the Center. While individuals we designate must keep in close contact with us this is a huge help, as we are stressed under the current conditions in many ways and this allows us to continue to care for wildlife at the same capacity. This also helps people like Hannaleah, who are confined to their homes, to continue to do meaningful, important, and necessary work to protect our natural resources. It was the mistreatment of wildlife that lead to the coronavirus to begin with—by treating wildlife in a sane, safe, and sound manner we are one of the first lines of defense against emerging wildlife disease—when the West Nile Virus appeared in the United States it was rehabbers, noticing a sudden influx of diseased animals, that sounded the alarm that let health officials know that something was wrong. swvawildlifecenter.org #swvawildlifecenter #wildliferehab #coronavirus #covid19 #virginiatech

Posted by Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

People like her and other staff allow just as many animals to be cared for as when the center is operating under normal hours.

“Normally she would not be able to care for wildlife at home under our strict regulations but an emergency ruling by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is now allowing wildlife veterinary hospitals like ourselves to do what is normally unthinkable during these chaotic times—provide care for healthy orphaned animals outside of our main facility in order to prevent human to human transmission of COVID-19. Instead of having all our volunteers and staff members come to the Center and work in close contact with each other, the new emergency conditions allow us to designate only certain trained, skilled, and permitted individuals as remote care workers to minimize the number of people coming and going from the Center,” SWVAWC said in a post on Facebook.

Read more on the precautions SWVAWC is taking here.


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