We are so happy to have such steadfast supporters. The Flatbread Company of Bedford is one of those wonderful supporters, who hosted a fundraiser for NEWC during the month of June. They raised a total of $574.00 which is amazing! On top of that we also got a neat tote bag with the NEWC logo on it, we always love getting these kind of things. It means so much to us that people donate their time and money, as this is what keep us in business. The Flatbread Company of Bedford has an amazing assortment of pizzas, you should really check them out and grab a bite to eat!
Our weekend was filled with anticipation as we waited for construction to begin. The raptor flight pen and raccoon habitat started going up today, with the main supports being put into the ground. This project has been in the works for several months and was designed by Svey Strekalovsky. The project contractor is Ken Ryder, owner of the contracting company Ryder Development, who is donating his time and talent to the project. The project would not be possible without Ken’s generous donation. New England Wildlife Center raised the money from private foundations to build the caging. The pens have some really cool aspects to them. The Raccoon habitat is going to include platforms staggered at different heights, with ways for the raccoons to walk platform to platform. These platforms act as stimulants which fuel the curiosity of raccoons and cater to their developmental and behavioral skills, which are necessary for successful release into the wild. The Raptor flight pen will be used to provide larger birds, including birds of prey, with 20′ x 60′ x 48′ (big) area to exercise and build up their stamina before release. We expect the construction to continue into September and will be providing updates as we get them.
New England Wildlife Center is proud to share some great news to our website. For some time now, Troop 81157 of the junior girl scouts located in East Bridgewater have been collecting material goods to donate to NEWC. Troop leader Kathy MacDonald and co-leader Rhonda DeChambeau organized the group of 15 girls into doing a variety of different activities, such as holding a candy bar raffle, to raise donations. These activities and donations are part of the troop’s Bronze Award Service Project. Their aspirations came to fruition on June 4th as Troop 81157 took a trip down to NEWC in order to drop off all the much needed items they have collected. Steve Martin, the director of our volunteer programs, was there to receive the amazing collection of goods. After many trips in and out of the Center, with hands full of donations, and after the last roll of paper towels had been delivered, the astounding total added up to almost $1000. Steve noted that this donation was, “one of the largest item donations we have ever had the pleasure of receiving in the past few years”. Consisting of almost every item on our wish list, the troop has gone above and beyond the call of service in order to make a real difference in the lives of all the animals treated at the Center. We want to thank them for their time, commitment and generosity.
It warms our hearts to see girls like this take it into their own hands to make a difference for a cause they care so much about. Every donation counts, large or small, and it is these donations that keep NEWC stocked and ready to provide care to the thousands of injured, orphaned and sick wild animals that enter through our doors every year. We are inspired to keep doing our best thanks to the generosity of our local community. Thank you again Troop 81157, you have made a difference!
Rock Salt is the most commonly used method for melting that pesky winter ice that builds up on our roads, driveways, and front stoops. It’s cheap n’ easy to apply and frankly it does a darn good job, but before you go out and douse your driveway to keep Santa from taking a nasty spill this year, there’s a few things you should know. Rock salt is a very corrosive and concentrated substance, which can cause problems for your local plants, animals, and waterways. Not to mention it can do pretty serious number on your paintjob.
What’s that you say? It’s just salt which exist in nature anyways, so what’s the big deal?? well….you’re right. Rock salt is essentially just large chunks of sodium chloride minerals, the same stuff you used to salt those holiday cookies, but the danger comes in the amount not from the chemical makeup. In nature it’s all over the place. It’s in the soil, the air, the ocean, heck humans are made of about 1% salt, but it always subscribes to a natural balance. When you dump a large input of salt into a system that is not equipped to deal with it, it can upset the balance and cause real problems for plants and animals.
So here’s where it becomes your problem. Salt is water soluble, meaning that it dissolves into water and becomes a component of the fluid. It then can flow with the water wherever it is headed and ends up wherever the topography flattens out. When you use it to melt ice in your driveway it does just that, and flows off of your impermeable driveway until it gets absorbed or pools somewhere flat. Now this is troublesome because most often driveways are designed on a down slope to allow excess water to runoff of them. This means that the salty water will either runoff onto your lawn, or into the street where it will continue flowing into a storm drain, culvert, or water feature.
If it ends up in your lawn, its pretty much game over for your grass. The salty water is absorbed into the soil which lowers the PH making the soil more acidic, which inhibits nutrient and water transfer to the plants that grow there. It’s just like if you eat too much salty popcorn and have to drink more fluids to balance yourself out. When excess salt is present plants need more water to compensate which they may not be able to get. Additionally, the animals that depend on eating your lawn to survive also get the short end of the stick. They are left either with no food, or the food they do get is very high in salt which can cause health problems, namely salt poisoning. Salt is also an irritant, especially in high concentrations, which means pets and wildlife with pads on the bottoms may get superficial burns.
So now lets say that your property is safe from salt damage and you’re one of those households whose excess water drains directly into the street, you’re off the hook right? Sorry, no such luck. When salient water flows onto an impermeable surface like the street it just keeps on trucking until it either gets absorbed and ruins some other poor saps lawn, or it makes its way into some sort of storm water drainage infrastructure, be it a drain, culvert, drainage ditch, river, stream or something of the like. Now as we know many of these outlets feed directly into freshwater systems like the local river or stream in an effort to prevent flooding and dilute pollution inputs. The funny thing about salt and freshwater is that a very small concentration of sodium chloride can have an un-proportionally large effect on water quality. It only takes a pinch, no pun intended, to degrade water past the point where it is no longer safe for consumption. So when you get a whole community salting their driveways and the runoff is coagulating in the same drainage systems it can really cause some serious damage. So come springtime when everything starts flowing again, plants and wildlife that use streams as drinking and food sources are heavily impacted.
So now you’re probably thinking, “great now I feel bad, but I still don’t have a solution to my ice problem”… Well have no fear; there are a number of environmentally friendly ice melters that will do the trick. As this issue has gained more notoriety in recent years, people have developed all sorts of new commercial solutions to take care of the problem without angering the local Raccoon population. Here at the Wildlife Center we came up with our own home-brew to melt ice using things we found in our freezer, and it works pretty well if I do say so myself. Check out the video link for our recipe, and have a good winter.
The Night of A Thousand Faces Halloween Event was a tremendous success. Thank you to the 2,000 people that came, waited and walked the lit pumpkin path. Below are some terrific halloween articles in the Patriot Ledger about the event.
Thank you Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department for donating 200 pumpkins! Staff and volunteers picked, gathered and drove those bad boys back to the Center where scouts started carving them up.
Thank you to Lambert’s of Pembroke for donating 30 pumpkins and thank you to everyone of you who donated or helped us collect 40o beautiful orange pumpkins for this weekend’s Night of A Thousand Faces – 10th annual Halloween Event.
The event is 6-8 both Friday and Saturday – come see the pumpkins lit through the forest, eat cookies, roast marshmallows, sip cider, and see wildlife. Tickets only $5 per person. The weather is going to be awesome! Directions are here on the website.
I wanted to let you all know that the adolescent Coyote we’ve been treating in the hospital was successfully released yesterday! After a two month recovery at the Center he was given a clean bill of health and was discharged back into the wild. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife issued the Coyote an eartag to help them track and better understand the biology and behavior of these amazing animals. Thanks to all the hardwork and support from the New England Wildlife Center community this guy is back at home tonight happy and healthy, Thank you all so much!
New England Wildlife Center has a collaborative education program with the Norfolk Agricultural High School (Norfolk Aggie). Six years ago the program began as an initiative between the Center, Norfolk Agricultural High School, Mass Bay Community College and Massachusetts General Hospital. Each year the Center’s veterinarians and Norfolk Aggie teachers interview students enrolled in their animal science program who are interested in participating in this six week long hands-on internship. Students must submit resumes, interview and follow up with thank you letters. In May and June, students spend six weeks at the Center working inside our hospital alongside our undergraduate students, veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
According to Norfolk Agricultural teacher, Diane, the Center experience reinforces the information that is taught to them in the classroom, and teaches them things that can only be learned through hand-on experience. “The students love learning all the procedures that allow for the proper rehabilitation of animals and they also enjoy learning how to educate others about wildlife and their own roles in the process of keeping them safe.” she says “New England Wildlife Center’s philosophies and care of wildlife reflect the school’s beliefs.”
Norfolk Agricultural High School enjoys their experience here because of our openness toward education. The Center strives to see these students learn from their time here and educate others about what they’ve learned.
Posted by Student, Jack Banagis
Toads for Mount Auburn Cemetery
By Dr. Joe Martinez, Ed.D
Mount Auburn Cemetery ( www.mountauburn.org ) is renowned as both the first garden cemetery to be established in the United States (consecrated in 1831) and as a birding hotspot (this past Spring a pair of nesting great horned owls with their two fledglings created quite a stir). Besides birds, other wildlife inhabiting the cemetery includes coyotes, foxes, painted turtles and bullfrogs. This is especially impressive when one considers that its location lies within both Cambridge and Watertown.
Over the past two decades the Cemetery administration has been committed to improving wildlife habitat on the grounds through plantings of native groundcovers, bushes and trees with the intent of attracting more wildlife to the cemetery. More recently, the administration has agreed to a project, initiated through a citizen-scientist proposal by Joe Martinez (the New England Wildlife Center’s outreach educator) and Patrick Fairbairn (a member of the Watertown Conservation Commission), to attempt a repopulation of the grounds with American toads, gray treefrogs, and spring peepers. Each of these amphibian species was undoubtedly present in the cemetery at its inception; their disappearance from the cemetery is probably due to earlier landscaping practices that eliminated suitable habitat for the juveniles and adults.
The project is beginning with the American toad. Over a three year period (that began this year) a specified number of toad tadpoles will be collected each Spring from two locations near Boston and released into a vernal pool at the cemetery. One of those locations is the rainwater retention pool at the New England Wildlife Center. In the five years since its creation wood frogs, spring peepers, and American toads have migrated in from the adjacent wetlands to breed there. When approached by Joe, Dr. Greg Mertz graciously agreed to volunteer NEWC as one of the donor locations.
Moving any Massachusetts amphibian from one location to another with the intent of establishing a new population requires permission from the state Fish and Wildlife Department, therefore a Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife scientific collecting permit was obtained. In addition, permission was needed from the Watertown Conservation Commission (as the release site within the cemetery lies within Watertown).
This past May the first tadpoles were collected from the retention pond and transported to the cemetery. The tadpoles began metamorphosing in late June and have already been seen over twenty yards from the vernal pool. Should any survive into adulthood they will return to the vernal pool to breed. If all goes well, in 3-4 years, the melodic sound of trilling American toads will add yet another wildlife element for visitors to enjoy at Mount Auburn Cemetery!
The rainwater retention pool. This pool was created to collect rain run-off from the roof and parking lot of the Thomas E. Curtis Wildlife Hospital and Education Center and filter the water before it reaches a nearby wetland. Three species of amphibians now breed here.
American toad tadpoles from the rainwater retention pool. Most of them have hindlimbs.
A newly metamorphosed toad at the cemetery. It was found along the shore of the vernal pool in which it was released.
In a few years toads this size may be living at Mount Auburn Cemetery!
Reptile Talk With Kurt Schatzl Sat, Aug6 at 1pm .
Come Join us!
Kurt Schatzl is the current President of the New England Herpetological Society of Weymouth Ma. The NEHS is a conservation oriented educational organization that promotes the advancement of Herpetology. Kurt is a lifelong Braintree resident and reptile hobbyist with extensive knowledge of native reptile and amphibians, including endangered species.
- $5 Suggested Donation
The Center is all about teaching science. BUT we don’t do it in a classroom. Nor do we emphasize field trips to the Center and its nature trails. INSTEAD, we the adults of the Center, both staff and volunteers, go about the professional business of veterinary medicine and invite kids of all ages to attend. We then teach from their questions on the spot and about what is relevant to them. They then model our skills and knwoledge. Between times they go looking for frogs and tadpoles.
These four energetic girls ran a lemonade stand on Blackhawk Street here in Weymouth and made $60!
They donated it to the Center to help us care for animals and to continue our education programs. Thanks ladies!
Walter “Bear” Zaremba was a popular member of the Cat Bird Cafe. He passed away a few weeks ago. A memorial “Catbird Cafe” was held in his honor on Father’s Day. Friends, family and fans attended from all over the East Coast. One friend said, “Bear will be remembered for his music. He loved to play and with anyone, expert and novice alike.” He will be missed greatly. He embodied the spirit of the Center and its welcoming embrace to all people, and all living creatures!
Below Bear plays opposite Matt Reisman in a “Deliverance” style guitar duel. Bear matched simultaneously Matt’s notes by watching his fingers race across the guitar strings.
The field of animal care is one of the most controversial subjects in America today. Hyperbolic passion and reaction to various treatments of animals is exceeded by only the field of abortion and reproductive rights. Here is our current question: Should the Center treat and release invasive species of animals, or should invasive species be euthanized because of the damage they do to native species? For example, the mute swan is an invasive species (actually, a domestic species gone feral to the point of being an invasive species) that out-competes native ducks and wading birds. Should we euthanize a swan when it comes to the Center?