Junior Reilly Clark Experiences Importance of Public Wildlife Education Firsthand

On the third day of Reilly Clark’s internship, a woman called in because she was afraid the husky mix puppy she bought at a garage sale would hurt her chihuahua as it grew.

Reilly soon learned the woman’s puppy wasn’t a puppy at all — it was a coyote.

Of course, living with a wild coyote has its risks, so it was sent to the Humane Indiana Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where Reilly, a junior animal behavior major, interned in the summer of 2019. This non-profit organization located in Valparaiso, Indiana opened just five years prior but has admitted over 7,400 animals in need.

However, coyote puppies weren’t the most common calls. Reilly said most calls come from a concern about wildlife that isn’t always warranted because people don’t know what to do about injured or orphaned wildlife. This is why public outreach and education is a key part of Humane Indiana’s work.

Reilly also spent a lot of time looking after the animals in the center’s care.

“Every time an animal was brought into us, there was something new to learn about how to take care of it,” she said.

She came across crows, squirrels, kestrels, groundhogs, red-tailed hawk, eastern cottontails, possums, skunks, bats, and more. Many of these animals were infants.

“It is quite the experience to watch a baby animal that you have tube or hand-fed be released back into their natural habitat.”

By Maureen Langley
Maureen Langley Designer & Marketing Coordinator Maureen Langley