You have come across an injured wild animal.
What are you doing?
Kathryn Oller is working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to rehabilitate the animals and return them to the wild, if possible.
She is the director of the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, located outside the city of Stroudsburg. Licensed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the US Department of Agriculture, the center serves Monroe, Lehigh, Northampton, Wayne, Pike, and Lucerne counties.
The nonprofit center treats more wild animals each year, including elk, owls, hawks, hawks, eagles, squirrels, rabbits, songbirds, foxes, raccoons, and bears.
To help offset the costs, the center will open this weekend for the annual open fundraiser.
“Our immediate goal is to provide humane and professional care to injured and orphaned local wildlife with the purpose of returning to the wild when appropriate,” Ohler said on the center’s website.
Uhler became licensed to rehabilitate wildlife in 1980 and has since worked to grow the nonprofit Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center. She has a master’s degree in wildlife biology and studied ecology at Stroudsburg High School.
Her husband, Eric Oller, is the co-director, handles the vast amount of paperwork, and takes care of large mammals and birds of prey.
Sharon Rose Wyckoff, the clinic’s director, has been working at the center for nearly a decade, training volunteers and helping care for the animals.
“Equally important, the organization strives to provide education to the public about the natural history, significance, and ways in which we can come to terms with the rich diversity of Pennsylvania’s native wildlife.”
The center offers educational programs to prevent and reduce human-wildlife conflict and is a phone call away for advice if you encounter injured wildlife.
“As more people move into rural habitats, contact with wildlife will become more common, increasing the potential for disease and infection. The Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center will strive to continue to provide a place where wildlife can be treated and people know how to deal with Wildlife issues in a safe and successful manner.
The center takes care of three to six cubs a year from orphans or injured. “We usually get them in the middle of a winter’s night, so we can’t say when they’ll be ready to go back into the wild, or even where they’re going. At least we’re giving the bears a second chance. This isn’t just playing with tiny animals that look so cute,” Oller said.
The center is now in the middle of a medical crisis with the spread of bird flu in the state causing food and drug bills and veterinarians to soar.
What’s new in the center
The center has a new, inspected bird cage house where the birds can spend time recovering.
During COVID, the center has built a large ash clump habitat for the bears where they will have plenty of room to move around. It features large boulders, and a group of volunteers painted the walls green and then painted trees, vines, and other plants that make them look exactly like how a bear feels at home.
When the enclosure is not used for bears, it is used for eagles and other large birds with broad wings.
What does the center need?
The center currently feeds hawks, owls, and vultures with coyotes and foxes.
They take care of a lot of predators here and the cost of rabbits and rats to feed the predators is very expensive. And the prescriptions they use to treat animals are expensive.
Just treating one bald eagle for lead poisoning costs a ton of money and one bear could potentially cost $400 to $500 or more, Ohler said.
Catherine Oller Director of the Wildlife Center with a rehabilitated owl. Amy Leap / Times News
Two little birds are being rehabilitated from injuries.
The Snowshoe Rabbit is recovering from injuries and will return to the wild when everyone is healed.
This little owl is recovering and will leave when the weather is better.
You will always see these little skunks because they live in a rehabilitation center and are an ambassador and a learning tool.
These little bats have been brought to the center to grow and are kept protected from winter weather and will be released when they are old enough.
If you’ve been to the center before, you’ve probably already familiarized yourself with this royal bobcat who lives in the center.