New England Wildlife Center
Preserving New England's Wild Legacy
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By: Jack Banagis
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canada goos

On August 1st 2013 the New England Wildlife Center’s hospital admitted a Canada Goose who was shot through the head with an archery arrow.  He was rescued and transported to the New England Wildlife Center by the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  The Canada Goose was alert and conscious, but he was malnourished and had no use of his jaw.  Dr. Mertz successfully removed the arrow and packed the wound with surgical padding to prevent further necrosis of the skin. Fortunately, the arrow did not damage any major nerves or muscles in his face and he retained full mobility of his head and jaw.   After three and a half weeks of rehabilitative care, medication and nutritional support he is healthy enough to be released back to the wild.

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The release will take place at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at a pond near the Ellis Haven Camp Ground in Plymouth, MA .  Katrina Bergman, the Center’s executive director said “We are particularly excited that the Canada Goose will be released back to the pond where his mate and goslings are.  It is critical that we as a society protect the most vulnerable among us.   Providing medical care to wildlife caught in harm’s way is just the right thing to do.”

The Center receives no tax payer funds and relies solely on individual donations.  We are the only wildlife hospital and education center in the metro-Boston area.  Please visit our front page to make a donation today!  We need everyone’s help.

By: Katrina Bergman
canada goos

canada goos

Last Friday, New England Wildlife Center received a particularly bizarre case from Plymouth….

This Canada goose was admitted after he was found with an arrow protruding from his head. Our veterinarians were able to remove the arrow without causing further damage to the goose. Since his surgery he has been put on a regiment of antibiotics and pain medications to prevent infection and to keep him comfortable. The wound is being treated using a wet-to-dry procedure which involves filling the wound with a paste that clings to debris inside the wound as it dries.

The paste is then pulled out which cleans the wound and aids in preventing infection. We are currently in the process of removing the paste today to check on the goose’s progress. We will be continuing this treatment for a few weeks until the wound has completely healed. The goose is strong and active, he is eating well and is starting to look healthier. We are cautiously optimistic that he will be released back into the wild once his injuries fully heal.

This story has caught a lot of attention and has been printed in multiple newspapers and given a segment on local news. If you wish to read, hear or watch these stories we have links to some of the articles here;

By: Jack Banagis
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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.

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By: zak












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.


Rock Salt

By: Katrina Bergman

In honor of Raccoon Nation.  A salute…as they preparefor release back to the wild this week.  

By: Katrina Bergman




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.

Night of A Thousand Faces – 2000 walk the woods

Oh, what a night – great photos of pumpkins!

By: Katrina Bergman
pumpkin carvers

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.

By: Greg Mertz, DVM

Photo: Here he is, looks so much better doesn't he?  He is going into his eigth week with us and he is doing great. </p><br /><br /><br /> <p>This young coyote is set for release next week, and will be undergoing his last round of treatments over the next few days.<br /><br /><br /><br /> As you can see, he has regrown all of the fur he lost on his face and back, and has become much more alert and attententive. </p><br /><br /><br /> <p>Veterinarians and vet staff are continuing to give him nutritional support so that he is at a healthy weight for his return to the wild. Tonight's menu? - a mixed fruit plate (coyotes are omnivores after all, and blueberries are his favorite) topped with some chickens and a savory baby mouse garnish, delicious no?


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!



By: Katrina Bergman

Ready to Roll!

Hey all, I wanted to give you a progress update on the Cotote we have in the hospital. He is going into his eigth week with us and  he is doing great! He is set for release next week, and will be undergoing his last round of treatments over the next few days.

He has regrown all of the fur he lost on his face and back, and he has become much more alert and attententive. Veterinarians and vet staff are continuing to give him nutritional support so that he is at a healthy weight for his return to the wild.

Coyote with Sarcoptic Mange – 8 weeks ago

By: Katrina Bergman

Doing Great!

Hey all, wanted to give you an update on the Coyote we have in the hospital. This little guy has made a lot of progress since mid-August and his condition has improved dramatically. He is recovering from a severe case of Sarcoptic Mange as well as a bacterial infection and malnutrition.

This coyote teen has been receiving a regiment of antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs as well as nutritional support to help him get back to a healthy weight. As you can see from the picture his mange has mostly cleared and the fur on his face is re-growing nicely. He is much more active and alert and has regained his appetite.

He will be receiving his 3rd round of treatments this week and we are cautiously optimistic that he will be healthy enough to return to the wild by the middle of October. Thank you all for your concern and we will keep you posted on his progress.


By: Katrina Bergman
Categories: Right Now, Wildlife | 11 Comments


Wildlife admission hours are 10-2 Tue – Fri.  To save you time and angst, please, please, please – always call before coming in.  We try to keep the web as up to date as possible, but a flood of wild animals can change our in take status quickly.  I do realize that sometimes it is difficult to get through on our phone lines. We receive about 10,000 calls about wildlife this time of year.  Thank you for your patience.   We hope to see you soon, and thank you for caring for wildlife. :)

By: Katrina Bergman


Helping a Hawk Fly Free Again –

Dr. Adamski works with New England Wildlife Center technicians and student interns to repair a red-tailed hawk’s feathers.  This red-tail was admitted to the Center, unable to fly, with severely damaged feathers.  The procedure they are performing to help this hawk fly again is called imping.  Imping is the process of taking feathers from a deceased “donor bird” and epoxying them into the feather shafts of a live bird, who is in need of feather repair.  

In order to complete this procedure, our staff and interns bought a live bamboo plant and cut strips from the woody portion of the plant.  These strips were then dried over night and pressed between two pieces of construction paper with two heavy books placed on top.  During the procedure, it was these bamboo strips that were inserted into the shaft of the donor feather and then into the shaft of the patient.  

These feathers will help this red-tailed hawk fly again and will remain intact until she molts.  In this case, the “donor” red-tail hawk arrived dead at New England Wildlife Center after being shot. The hawk in the video is the patient who is receiving the donated feathers.  She is now doing very well and will be released.

By: Katrina Bergman
Coyote with Sarcoptic Mange


You wouldn’t want to meet this poor bugger in a back alley.  This male adolescent coyote is suffering horribly from Sarcoptic Mange (mites).   Mites are even worse than having really bad fleas.  At least fleas stay on top of your skin.  This Coyote was admitted by Woburn animal control and is suffering from a severe case.  Dr. Rob says that the coyote also has a secondary bacterial infection.  As you can see, he is very thin.  This teen coyote is being treated with an antiparasite, antibiotics and plenty of good food to fatten him up.  Although he looks awful, this regiment usually works.  However, because of the severity of his mange, his prognosis is only fair.   It will take a while, maybe six weeks or more, for him to recover.  The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife will be placing an ear tag on the coyote to track him so that they can better understand the biology of these facsinating creatures.  Our whole team is working hard so that this coyote can heal and be released to the wild. 

 “Like all the wildlife we help, this is the best biology lesson we can give to undergraduate students,” says Dr. Rob.  First hand exposure (with appropriate supervision and safe gaurds) is the best way to teach and to connect learners to wildlife and to the out-of-doors.  People protect what they know and love.   

When the coyote arrived, interns from Drexel University, the University of Rhode Island and the University of California at San Diego all gathered round the surgery table and assisted Dr. Rob while he sedated the animal.  With veterinary and veterinary technician supervision, undergraduates are feeding and providing medication.  While they are working and in follow up seminars, all of our students are learning pathophysiology (what causes the disease), epidemiology (how it spreads) and pharmacology (what meds are used and why).  They are also learning about coyote’s biology, anatomy, physiology and their natural history.

Sacropic Mange is a public health risk (but it is easily treated in most humans).  Dogs that come into contact with wildlife (sticking their nose in a fox hole for example), can catch it.  They can pass it on to us when we give them a hug or pat them.  Most of us already know not to feed wildlife and to keep our distance.   But it is a good reminder. 

We will keep you updated on this guy.  :)

By: NEWC Staff

Toads for Mount Auburn Cemetery

By Dr. Joe Martinez, Ed.D

Mount Auburn Cemetery ( ) 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!



By: Katrina Bergman
Definitely ready to go!

Today Mom Opossum and her 10 babies were released back into the wild after a difficult go of it. Mom was admitted in late July after being found stuck inside of the wall of a Braintree home. Fortunately for mom opossum, she got stuck in the right house. The homeowner was able and willing to help. The mother opossum was thin and distressed when she arrived at New England Wildlife Center for emergency care. Initially mom was admitted with a few nursing babies. Within a few days, a total of 10 babies joined her at the Center. Each time we thought all the babies were found, more kept coming! It is always a great day when they return to the wild.

Here’s some pictures chronicling her stay with us and a first hand look at our full immersion internship program.



By: Katrina Bergman
Categories: videos, Wildlife | Add a Comment

Tonight on Channel 5, Dr. Rob shared  helpful information about coyotes.  In the clip, a woman explains to reporters that she was surrounded by coyotes in Hingham, MA while walking with her dog.  Most likely, the coyotes were young ones out with their mom.   The juveniles are out and curious, and mom is accompanying them.  If you encounter a similar situation, make a lot of noise and thrown rocks and sticks.  This will scare them away.  As we continue to encroach on wildlife, encounters with them increase.  We can all live together if we understand and respect what is wild.

Click here to watch:

By: Greg Mertz, DVM


This red-tailed hawk was brought in several weeks ago from Burlington, Mass.  Initial x-rays showed that he had a very swollen leg with several small scrapes the skin (presumably from rodent prey biting at his feet during capture).  He finished his course of antibiotics for a leg infection, and today we repeated x-rays to monitor the swelling.  The swelling has gone down, but we can now see evidence of a healing  fracture in the bone it that region.  It must have been a hairline fracture, too tiny to detect the first time around.  But the healing bone is much thicker and denser making it easier to spot.   The hawk still has a good prognosis, but now we know that he’ll need a little extra time to rest before we increase his activity level.  Can you spot the injury on the X-ray?


By: Greg Mertz, DVM
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The raccoon who made these prints must have disappeared right before I arrived on this wooden bridge.  Our nature trails skirt through the homes of many species of wild animals.

By: Greg Mertz, DVM
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This American robin was successfully rehabilitated after breaking its shoulder blade.  In order to keep the bone stable and give it time to heal, the bird had its wing wrapped to its body for two weeks.  Just like a human would have a cast or sling.  But because bird’s have a much faster metabolism than mammals, the birds broken bone will heal in 1/4 the time it would take a human!Marco Venturoli, our senior technician, is shown here releasing the robin back into the woodlands behind our Center.


Photos courtesy of Ashley Kramer, Student Intern.

By: NEWC Intern
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This Virginia rail was happy to be recently released back into the wild.

Rails and other migratory birds often become injured during the spring and fall migrations as they are passing through Boston on their way to warmer locations.  The brights lights and large glass windows of big cities confuse the birds and result in collisions with buildings and other man-made structures.  An estimated 100 millions birds die in collisions each year!  Luckily, this rail was only stunned and was able to make a full recovery.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Kramer, Student Intern.

By: Greg Mertz, DVM
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This juvenile downy woodpecker was found by a good Samaritan in his backyard while it was being attacked by another bird.  The bird was rescued, but it had sustained serious wounds to its head that caused it to be uncoordinated and unable to fly.  When the bird first came to the hospital it was very disoriented and even had a hard time finding and eating the food in its cage.  With some care and patience, the woodpecker made a full recovery over the course of several weeks.  And after he began pecking wood again and acting like a normal woodpecker he was release back into the wild.


Photograph courtesy of Ashley Kramer, Student Intern.

By: NEWC Intern
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This eastern grey squirrel was found in Boston Common with a huge abscess (pus filled pocket) under its chin.

After clipping and scrubbing the infected area, we are ready to lance (cut open) the abscess to allow it to drain.

Flushing the abscess helps to clean out debris and bacteria so that it can heal over faster.

This squirrel also had overgrown teeth that had to be trimmed back.

Several days after surgery, this squirrel is recovering nicely and is much more comfortable.

All images are courtesy of Ashley Kramer, Student Intern.

By: NEWC Intern
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These juvenile red squirrels are recovering from a serious case of mange (mite infestation) in which they lost almost all of their fur.  The only fur that remained was on the their head, feet and tail making them look like a domestic cat with a lion-haircut.  Slowly, but surely, they are starting to regrow healthy fur coats to keep them warm in the colder months.

When these squirrels first arrived they were completely hairless on their bodies.

After just a few weeks you can see their new fur is just starting to show up.


By: Greg Mertz, DVM

This red-tailed hawk was hit on the right wing by a line drive golf ball. Fractured his ulna. Recovering after surgery.