To the Rescue
Wildlife Veterinary Volunteers Help Deer, Geese, Even the NIH Bear
Staff from the McGavern Laboratory on the 5th floor of the Clinical Center were concerned. It had been 3 days since a nest of 6 goslings had hatched on the NIH Library’s roof and mother and father seemed to be having trouble caring for them. Not sure who to call, they contacted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for help. Although unable to come to campus, state officials suggested moving the goslings to the ground.
A call was made to Dr. Charmaine Foltz, director of the Office of Research Services’ Division of Veterinary Resources, and an NIH group called the Wildlife Veterinary Volunteers stepped into action. Dr. Garry Linton, the on-call veterinarian, with the help of Donald Edward and his team from the Office of Research Facilities, were able to relocate the goslings safely to the grass on the south side of Bldg. 10 where the parents quickly claimed the babies.
In the past, the NIH Police were called to deal with these wildlife issues. Not equipped to handle such incidents, the police would seek out the DVR, often after hours, or in the case of the NIH bear (who visited campus June 19, 2014), asking laboratory animal veterinarians to go beyond even their capabilities. To address the need, Dr. Terri Clark, director of the Office of Animal Care and Use, and Foltz recruited a group of compassionate vets on campus and established the Wildlife Veterinary Volunteers in 2015.
In the beginning, it was a loosely organized bunch. But in January, the volunteers established a 24-hour on-call schedule with the NIH operator. Last November, they also participated in training with wildlife biologist Dr. Anthony DeNicola and veterinary surgeon Dr. Steve Timm. These two were integral to the success of the deer management program recently instituted on campus, in which adult females are neutered.
The training included an overview of approaches and considerations for dealing with wildlife. In addition, two NIH police officers, along with DVR’s Tom Thomas and Kelly Prevost, participated in air dart rifle and pistol training in the event there is a need to anesthetize an animal from a distance.
The program has brought vets together from various ICs and developed a sense of comradeship. Wildlife Veterinary Volunteers are ready to save goslings from a roof. Or, having tackled the NIH bear, maybe next it will be a mountain lion! Ok…let’s hope not any time soon.—Brad Moss