Wildlife Photography is full of crazy adventures. Maybe one day, you’re sitting in a hunting blind waiting for ducks to fly or swim in. The next day involves walking through the woods searching for owls. These are regular days for a wildlife photographer, but sometimes you come across something you didn’t expect: an animal in need of rescue.
This scenario happened on Saturday night to me. The photographers that I regularly go out with had heard about a beaver being seen near the Saylorville Lake. We headed out to the area where it had been spotted and located it a short distance from the road. Our first impression was that it was small for a beaver and as we observed it, we became more concerned. The beaver was a fair distance from the water, listless, and didn’t seem worried that we were there which is very unusual behavior. One of the other photographers moved closer to it and found that it was surrounded by scat and still was not attempting to run away.
This is where the advice and assistance of wildlife rehabilitators are needed. These people and organizations are trained in wildlife care and behaviors. If you see an animal acting oddly, they can tell you if it is just an unusual behavior or if it needs to be rescued. If they cannot take the animal, they can direct you to other rehabilitators or care centers that may be able to assist. This beaver needed help. The photographers that I go out with fortunately had phone numbers for some of the wildlife rehabilitators in the area. They immediately began calling and hoping to get a hold of someone because we only had an hour of light left.
Shortly after sunset, we were able to catch the beaver and with the assistance of a local rehabilitator ready it for transport to the Iowa Wildlife Center which is roughly a 45-minute drive from where we were. Hopping in the car, we made the trek north to drop the poor thing off. Along the way, we learned a lot about the logistics of caring for a beaver. While a plastic crate is functional for short drives, a beaver is capable of chewing through them and needs a metal cage for long-term care. They also have specific dietary needs which means they need specialized care.
By the time we got home at midnight, we had donated a large metal crate and some rodent food to the center to help with the little guy and left our information with them, so when the beaver is ready for release, we can be there for it.
Please keep your local wildlife rehabilitators in mind the next time you are clearing out your pet crates or cages. The metal ones, especially, are always in demand.