provided to Santiva Chronicle
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife admitted its 4,000th patient of the year after it was rescued from the beach by a CROW staff member participating in the International Coastal Cleanup.
Rachel Rainbolt, the Education & Development Coordinator for CROW, along with other staff members, were participating in the International Coastal Cleanup at Bowman’s Beach coordinated by Keep Lee County Beautiful and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation on Saturday, Sept. 21, when she noticed the bird.
“There was a flock of terns and gulls that took off from the beach and this one was left behind,” said Rainbolt about noticing the distressed bird. “As I approached, it struggled and stumbled on the beach, so I could immediately tell that something was not right with it.”
The laughing gull, a common gull species found throughout coastal areas, was rushed to CROW’s wildlife hospital where veterinarians took over. They noted the bird to be having trouble breathing and that it was emaciated and very weak, unable to stand. Bloodwork led them to suspect the bird had aspergillosis, a fungal infection that can commonly affect seabirds with weakened immune systems. Radiographs and an endoscope procedure were scheduled to confirm the suspected diagnosis, but sadly, the bird passed away in the supplemental oxygen chamber before they could be performed.
Although the gull did not survive, as the 4,000th patient, it marks a milestone for patient admissions in 2019. So far this year, CROW has seen approximately a seven percent increase in patient totals compared with the same time frame in 2018, a year which saw unprecedented numbers of sea turtles and birds affected by red tide. Since 2014, patient admissions to the wildlife hospital have increased by more than 40 percent.
“Our caseload continues to grow year after year,” says Dr. Robin Bast, staff veterinarian at CROW. “At the current rate, we expect we’ll exceed 5,000 patients well before the end of the year, a number we have never reached before.”
About Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Established in 1968, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital saving the sick, injured and orphaned native and migratory wildlife of Southwest Florida and beyond. Through state-of-the-art veterinary care, public education programs and an engaging visitor center, CROW works to improve the health of the environment, humans and our animals through wildlife medicine. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to www.crowclinic.org. If you find an animal that is in need of help, call (239) 472-3644 ext. #222.