Rehabbers help wildlife in the Piedmont Triad

“He's alert, he's in good shape, he's a good weight, from what I can tell,” said Jackie Schaible, as she does triage in the “emergency room” she’s made in the front of her house.

Like a lot of emergency rooms, Schaible knows her patient won’t be able to pay her. Her patient – like every other one that come through her door – won’t even be able to tell her where it hurts. Her patient is a hawk that has been hit by a car.

Schaible is the only state and federally-certified bird rehabber in Forsyth and Davidson counties. She doesn’t mind doing the work, she’s just worried that no one younger is coming up behind her to take over.

Melissa Coe knows just how she feels.

“And there are very few of us left who do in-home rehabilitation,” said Coe, who’s group, Piedmont Wildlife Rehab, does pretty much all the work in Guilford County. “Our rehabilitators are aging out and the new ones are not coming up to take it on.”

And there is plenty of work to do.

Helen Tucker is a volunteer who works mostly with rabbits.

“I've had so many this year, I can't remember exactly where this one came from,” said Tucker, as she cuddles a tiny rabbit she recently took in. She does know that last year the number was 98.

“Rescue, rehab and release. That's what we try to do, most times,” said fellow volunteer Kim Santos, as she holds an opossum as it nibbles on its breakfast of fruit and yogurt.

All of that costs money – most of it, out of the rehabber's pockets, though, “We beg people like you,” for money, Coe said. “We ask people, when they drop the animal off, to make a donation but it's pretty rare.”

But still, they do the work.

“It's rewarding, in ways, to know that you're making a difference,” Schaible said. “It's time consuming, it's emotionally draining, it's physically draining, it's financially draining. And so the rewards that we get from it is knowing that we made a difference.”

See the rehabbers at work in this edition of the Buckley Report.