Northern Michigan has a lot of wildlife surrounding it but sometimes accidents happen and animals can become injured or orphaned. Thatâ??s when wildlife rehabilitators come in.
Jyl Gaskin has been a wildlife rehabilitator for 20 years. She says she became passionate about saving animals after she successfully saved some baby rabbits when she was just seven years old.
â??Get up and feed, clean up poop, wash poop off of animals, wash poop off of me afterwardsâ?¦thereâ??s a lot of poop involved in this job,â?? giggled Gaskin.
And thatâ??s just the first half of her day as a wildlife rehabilitator.
Gaskin is licensed in Michigan and certified to take care of all kinds of animals.
â??Bobcats, mink, lot of raccoons over the years, squirrels, foxes, bunnies, baby birds,â?? said Gaskin.
Each year she gets around 60 different animals to take care of and release back into the wild where they came from.
â??I know I can't save them all but, you save what you can,â?? said Gaskin.
None of which she gets any sort of paycheck or funding from the state for. She says it costs her an average of between $3,000 and $5,000 each year.
â??We get nothing,â?? said Gaskin. â??We are responsible for all our own costs. There are some vets that will treat wildlife for free. That helps a lot.â??
Gaskin says that there are some larger wildlife groups that can get some state funding, but that itâ??s difficult to do.
â??A lot of people have been incredibly generous,â?? said Gaskin. â??They bring a bunny or something and they give me ten bucks for food. All of that adds up and all of that helps. But otherwise you just do what needs to be done. You get groceries, you pay bills, and you buy animal food.â??
The Department of Natural Resources says that Gaskin is one of less than 100 wildlife rehabilitators in the state.
DNR Wildlife Biologist, Steve Griffith says that the roll of a wildlife rehabilitator is essential when it comes to helping the DNR handle all of the injured and orphaned animals that the offices receive calls about on a daily basis.
â??I think the rehabilitators play a vital roll in mediating some of these human induced casualties,â?? said Griffith.
He says he wishes there were even more of these dedicated animal lovers out there.
â??You do it because you love it,â?? said Gaskin. â??It doesnâ??t matter what it costs.â??
Gaskin says sheâ??s always in need of gift certificates to feed stores, corn, and canned dog food to help take care of the animals.
If youâ??d like to donate or if you have an animal that you think needs help in the Grand Traverse County area, you can contact Gaskin at 231-267-5722.
For more information on other wildlife rehabilitators,click here.