Topic Descriptions

The avian gut microbiome: implications for raptor health and conservation ~Jennifer Houtz

Gut microbiota profoundly impact vertebrate host health through functional roles in immunity, metabolism, and nutrition. I will discuss recent advances in avian gut microbiome research and how these findings provide insight into raptor health and conservation. In addition, I will discuss my collaborative effort with Hawk Mountain to characterize the gut microbiomes of Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) nestlings on the breeding grounds and irruptive migrants on the wintering grounds.

Reflections on The Future of Wildlife Rehab in Pennsylvania ~Jackie Kent, WRSPA

An introduction of Wildlife Rehabilitation Support of PA as an organization to the rehab community. We will describe who we are, what we do, and how we plan to help wildlife rehabilitators across the state in 2019 and beyond.

Update on Infectious Diseases of Native Reptiles ~La’Toya Latney, DVM, Dipl. ECZM (ZHM), DABVP

Reptile and amphibian health are critical contributors to all vertebrate ecosystem health. As the world changes, these animals are becoming endangered faster than other animal groups and unfortunately infectious diseases are a big cause of rapid population declines. This lecture will overview some of the infectious diseases that are affecting native PA species, describe their devastating impact, how to report them, how to protect other wildlife, and hopefully empower you to become strong advocate for their health.

Education Ambassador’s Role in Creating Conservation Action and Awareness ~ Amy Owens

Education ambassadors (animal used for education purposes) create a strong human-animal bond that leads to more willingness to participate in supportive actions for that species. Research on public perceptions of local animals in need is the basis for this presentation. This research also aimed at finding a role for education ambassadors in driving compassion, knowledge, and conservation actions as well as the social sciences behind public programs.

Legal and Ethical Practices for Nonprofit Organizations ~Patricia Mogan/Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations

The Standards for Excellence is a national Ethics and Accountability Program. This session will focus on key components of the program along with some practical tools that any nonprofit can implement to ensure legal compliance and practices that can improve efficiency in board and program operations.

A Study on Stress in Birds of Prey and How it Relates to Wildlife Rehabilitation ~Lee Ann Streshenkoff

This study examined stress markers in birds of prey admitted to a wildlife rehabilitation center including corticosterone levels, H:L ratios, and behavioral surveys. The goal of this study was to examine which variables specifically affected stress markers including age, housing size, species, length of stay, injury vs. illness, and whether a bird was a permanent education ambassador or a wild patient. Results from this study help make recommendations for care while in a rehab setting and release timing.

Teach the Tormentor To Be Tolerant: The use of humane harassment in wildlife center outreach ~Jill Argall

Humane harassment is a process of using harmless techniques to make animals in precarious situations move on their own. This avoids senseless trapping or poisonings.  This talk goes over the benefits and challenges of instituting such a program at your Center. When you help the public help themselves, you can better use your limited resources on animals that are truly in need.

Squirrels in a nutshell ~Sandra Acosta

Overview of the natural history, hand rearing and some good practices for successful rehabilitation based on studying squirrels and lessons learned in the field. In addition to practice feeding techniques

Parasitology Wet Lab ~Ellen King and Lola Hubler

A close-up look at the tiny invader that can attack your wild patient’s health.

WNV – Two Studies
Preliminary Studies of Avian Hosts for Culex vectors of West Nile Virus in areas of Human Cohabitation in Pennsylvania ~Hannah Anderson, Michael Hutchinson, and John M. Hranitz

West Nile Virus has been widely studied since detection of the virus in the USA was reported in 1999. Since then, molecular analysis of mosquito blood meals has been used to identify avian hosts for mosquito vectors of the WNV and other diseases in the USA, but no host-preference studies have been focused on Pennsylvania. As a zoonotic disease, WNV can transfer to people when mosquitos consume human blood meals. Up until 2010, 2.5 million people reported WNV infection in the United States, and while pathology in humans rarely ensues, the high rate of infection means WNV still poses a considerable risk to human health. We have undertaken a study of blood meal analysis to identify avian hosts for two common WNV vectors in PA, Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans. In pilot studies in 2018, we screened primer sets and PCR conditions that would yield reliable identification of avian hosts in blood meals. We are building a database of avian hosts from samples collected (~2008-2013) by the DEP from habitats near areas of human habitation in all counties of PA. This presentation will provide an update on the progress and future directions of this work.

Potential Environmental Predictors of an important West Nile Virus vector (Culex restuans) in Ruffed Grouse Habitat ~:Samantha Maywald*, Clay Corbin, and Lisa Williams.

Since 2001, Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) population in Pennsylvania have been declining and were correlated with the prevalence of West Nile Virus (WNV). While there are many studies of environmental predictors of mosquito abundance in urban habitats, little is known about WNV vectors in forests. We think the same environmental factors in urban habitats (water availability, topography, and bird hosts) will predict the abundance of Culex restuans, an important WNV vector, in Ruffed Grouse habitat. Mosquitos were surveyed mid-late summer at eight sites in Luzerne county using paired gravid mosquito traps. Samples (1/week x 13weeks) were sent to PADEP for identification and assay of WNV. We used analysis of variance and regression to test if elevation, distance from human activity, temperature, and humidity were predictors of mosquito abundance. Mosquito densities ranged from 72 to 624 per site and WNV was positive in five sites. Across sites, none of our independent variables predicted mosquito abundance. Other local effects such as aspects of hydrography, vegetation, and bird hosts may be more important in determining the dynamics of WNV vectors. These latter predictors, a second season of data (summer 2019), and blood meal analysis, will help provide a habitat management plan for Ruffed Grouse in Pennsylvania.

The cost of the outdoor cat and dog ~Emily Garrigan

As wildlife rehabilitators, we know that domestic cats and dogs have an impact on the wild patients that we see. How do we communicate this in an effective way? Wildlife rehabilitators have a large amount of scientific data whether we know it or not. We know when animals are admitted, where they come from, what species/ages are being affected, and more! By gathering this data and presenting it in a meaningful way, we can share our knowledge with other disciplines within the scientific community as well as the general public. Learn more about how to best utilize your data and how to harness the intern power within your organization to get it done.

Understanding Safety Data Sheets ~Curt Speaker

Understanding the hazards and other properties of the chemicals that we routinely handle is critical in ensuring that human and animal health and safety are protected. Essential information about these materials is provided in the form of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). It is important that you be able to understand and utilize the information provided on the SDS.

Head Trauma in Wildlife ~La’Toya Latney, DVM, Dipl. ECZM (ZHM), DABVP

As rehabbers, you are on the front-lines for seeing a diverse array of species that have suffered impact trauma. In this talk we will overview the skull and neuroanatomy of these species, the pathology that occurs sustained with head trauma, review the guidelines for characterizing if the animal will make it, and review the best principles and steps to optimize recovery.

Feather Imping ~Metro Wildlife Center

We will do a quick presentation with a slideshow on why feather imping is a useful tool for wildlife rehabilitators to have in their box, how it can accelerate release time, what tools and techniques are needed, and when it is and is not appropriate. Then, we will demonstrate a start-to-finish dry run of the actual imping process, using deceased birds.

Sticky Situations ~Allison Rusinko

In this one hour talk we are going to discuss common substances animals get stuck in when they come in to a rehab center: most specifically sticky traps, oil and tar. With each item we will discuss what makes up these traps and what methods we could use to help animals that have these materials stuck onto their fur/feathers. You will learn how to take animals off the substance and clean them properly. Program includes a hands-on experience with trying to remove feathers and fur off these traps.

The Final Step ~Colleen Dougherty

Release protocols for different animals, making sure they are ready for release, and release criteria.

Developing Project Based Wildlife Programs for Teens ~ Angela Zappalla

Developing programs for students that bridge the gap between middle school students to teens can be a challenge for many educators. A large majority of wildlife programs target younger age groups and finding a way to connect to older students can be difficult. This presentation will focus on our Junior Rehabber Corps program, which is a six-month educational program designed to introduce teenage students to research and project design. Students get the opportunity to observe wildlife staff and resident animals to design projects that that they feel will advance our understanding of animals or benefit the local community. By providing a monthly program, we can address the need for a non-intensive, long term program that gives teenagers the opportunity to practice skills in STEM fields. During this presentation, we will talk about how we developed this program and how we market it to teens in our community.

Enrichment 101 ~Katie Kefalos

Enrichment is a vital component to the rehabilitation process. In this presentation you will learn basic enrichment techniques, how to implement this into a daily routine and the importance of educating interns and volunteers on this topic.

Avoiding Death by PowerPoint. Public Programs Without Using Animals ~Peggy Hentz

Making visual programs that are professional, powerful , and entertaining. Used well, media presentations can earn you respect and funding, but there are common mistakes that should be avoided.

West Nile Virus is back with a vengeance ~Robyn Graboski

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a horrific viral infection that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Birds are very susceptible to this infection. The mortality in some species is very high. This past summer was a challenge because of the higher than normal amount of rain. More standing water equals more mosquitoes. More mosquitoes equals more West Nile Virus. Robyn Graboski will talk about West Nile Virus, how it effects birds (especially birds of prey) and how to manage birds with WNV signs. Disclaimer: The medical treatments in this talk were worked out with the attending veterinarians. Please work with your veterinarian when treating West Nile Virus in wild animals.

Ticks and their diseases in PA – Prevention and Education ~Nicole Chinnici

The main objective of this presentation is to discuss ticks, their ecology, pathogens associated, and personal and home prevention. Why is this important? Tick-borne diseases affect hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. The infectious organisms spread by ticks have affected humanity and animals for years, and continue to be a global health threat. There are 42,000 cases of Lyme disease reported yearly in the US, but recent studies indicate that the actual number of people infected may be 420,000. Since 2011, PA has reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the US, with over 11,000 in 2017. Understanding the life cycle of ticks, where they are found and the pathogens they transmit will assist in preventing a tick bite and seeking early medical treatment if exposed.

Making the Dead Come Alive: Using Rehabilitation Failures in Education ~Susan Gallagher

Not every wildlife admission is destined for release. Despite our best efforts, sometimes patients don’t survive. When that happens, some animals are ideal for use as interpretive specimens.

Allowing an audience the opportunity for hands-on learning can significantly enhance outreach programming. This talk will offer simple, inexpensive techniques for safely preparing bones, feathers, and other items for educational use.

Urination Contamination ~Allison Rusinko

There are several zoonotic diseases common to wildlife and they can be spread in many ways. In this presentation we will be focusing on diseases that can be spread through urine, including tularemia, leptospirosis, hantavirus and toxoplasmosis. We will also discuss ways of testing for these diseases, most specifically leptospirosis.

Train the Trainer ~Emily Garrigan

As wildlife rehabilitators, we wear many hats. One of those hats is that of the trainer/teacher. With volunteer turnover inherently high and interns only able to commit to one semester at a time, there are plenty of new faces needing trained every season. But how do we train this many people in such a short amount of time on intricate topics when we have so many other things to do?Learn some of the theory behind adult education that will allow you to satisfy your needs as well as making the experience positive and meaningful for your new and current volunteers. We will discuss how to best utilize your “off-season” and experience volunteers/staff to help prepare you for the busiest times when you need new volunteers the most. Learn how to best effectively use your time to set training in motion before your volunteer even shows up to your door. With the right tools and strategies, you can see more effective training while taking up less of your highly valuable time.

Sanity interactive ~Leah Stallings

A group discussion of avoiding stress, dealing with people, and anxiety common to wildlife rehabilitators