Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Amazing!
It has been a year of unlearning. We have had to unlearn all of our normal patterns and come up with new ones to match the times we live in. In many ways unlearning is a very important skill and I think our community has it in abundance. While the pandemic had little to no effect for some, for others it had a devastating blow. Despite this global event the wildlife rehabilitation community showed it’s incredible resilience in the face of all of it. What a community of people we have! Organizations had to cut staff, intake more patients and limit or completely eliminate their essential volunteer programs; and yet they still kept going. You are all amazing and we are so honored to support your efforts in the best way we can.
First off, we need to send a huge grateful, heartfelt, giant blown kiss and thank you to everybody that donated during our end-of-year fundraiser. We recognized the fact that it was not exactly the best time to do it, but our resources were getting lower then we like to keep them. To date, we were able to raise around $12,000!!! Bless you all, so much!!! This money will help us upgrade many of the tools we use to keep WRMD working smoothly and efficiently. WRMD just keeps on growing and so we have to continue to grow our database as well. For those that became sustaining donors with yearly, quarterly or monthly contributions – we are eternally grateful for your support. With this support from all of our donors we are able to continue to Keep WRMD Free to All. We consider this project a group effort and without the support of those that can contribute we all help those that can’t.
If you would like to become a recurring donor please visit https://www.wrmd.org/donate. Our goal is to have a sustainable recurring donor base of $1,000 per month.
A Gift From Our Friends at Birds of the World – Cornell Lab of Ornithology
We are always looking for better opportunities and partnerships for WRMD, as are some of our most avid supporters. Well one of these amazing supporters has worked out a deal with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Birds of the World to provide all WRMD users free access to their database. If you haven’t used this before, prepare to be amazed! Almost anything that you could possible want to know about any bird in the world is all in one place. When do they migrate, where do they migrate too, when do they molt, what do they sound like? You name it, it is all there. We plan to push up this new update this weekend March 27, 2021. After that there will be a small change to the Dashboard page, where this amazing resource will be located. We are very excited about this resource and it is our hope for you to get loads of information out of it and enjoyment it! Stay tuned for an update to the WRMD dashboard for a link to Birds of the World.
Slowing Down on New Feature Request
We also are in the process of slowing down on new feature requests. We have so many on our plate that we need to get done, we just can’t really accept new ideas at this time. This year we hope to role out a new Daily Tasks feature we have been working on for some time now, that will encompass all of the rechecks prescriptions and daily husbandry needs of the patients. This will help you organize all of your daily tasks in a much more efficient manner. We also have a long list of little upgrades and features that need to be adjusted and finished. So, for now feel free to send us new ideas, but there is a good chance we will not be able to get to them this year.
The Future of Wildlife Rehabilitation Data
When Devin and I (Rachel) started this project we did not know where it would take us, but we had a vision of where it could go. Our #1 priority has always been our users and the integrity of their data. This year we will surpass 2 million patients from dozens of countries dating back to 1979. No where in the world is there a data set like this one, so what do we do with this knowledge, how can we benefit wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife as a whole, and what does this look like while maintaining the security and integrity of all of our users? We are starting to have to face this question as our users, researchers and journalist learn about us and are looking for information about wildlife. We have always used WRMD as a source of aggregate data… While not everybody uses WRMD, the bulk of patients that come into rehab probably use WRMD, so it is the largest most diverse dataset in the world for wildlife patients.
Within California, where we live, we have been working with UC Davis, California Fish and Wildlife and around 40 participating wildlife organizations to help us create a way to make aggregate data usable for not only researchers or agencies, but also wildlife rehabilitators. While we will never, ever release personal identifiable information unless prior approval from the directors of an organization, the collective aggregate knowledge has potentially powerful implications. What if we were able to identify potential disease outbreaks in wildlife before it becomes an outbreak and your organization is automatically notified to watch out for these patients early on? Maybe better legislation can be passed because we have evidence of the damage rodenticide and lead have on wildlife populations. Or maybe the value of wildlife rehabilitation as a professional field is recognized and programs are created to help fund our work. There is a growing realization in the world’s agencies of the need for better monitoring of all animals – silver lining to Covid-19… Wildlife Rehabilitators happen to be first responders to any wildlife health event and they have the most realtime in-the-field information; therefore rehabilitators are valuable and essential members in the larger conversation of the One Health discussion.
Our hope is that we can use this aggregate data to help wildlife rehabilitators, support wildlife and promote the importance of our field. We want to do this while maintaining the trust of our users and integrity of the data. We know that not all of our users understand this crazy, online, database, techy world and we promise that we will never do anything with the data without your knowledge. The last thing we want is to break your trust in us. We are working though this learning process very slowly and deliberately to make sure it is done right. So, stay tuned for any further developments if you are interested.
– Rachel Avilla