They met the vet care’s practice manager Karla Wallach and veterinarian Dr. Julie Andino, as well as Catherine Wolfe, Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitation (UUWR) co-founder and president and director of animal care.
UUWR is a non-profit organization that cares for injured, sick, and orphaned wild animals, and in cooperation with the Parks Department returns them to the wild after a clean bill of health.
UUWR has also created programs to educate the public about wildlife and environmental conservation to help make New York City a more secure environment for residents and wildlife alike. Now, UUWR aims to further its mission by opening a wildlife center.
“Many people don’t understand why a skunk is hanging out underneath their porch or why squirrels are in their attic, so wildlife rehabilitators are here to help you understand and live in harmony with wildlife,” said Wolfe, a Colorado native who has lived in New York for the past five years.
Wolfe asked the Girl Scouts why wildlife is important, and they learned that squirrels play a vital role in shaping the city's landscape.
“Squirrels pick up seeds, store them, and they’re forgetful, so that’s why we have many trees that grow,” she explained.
Wolfe also praised opossums for controlling the tick population by making them a steady part of their diet, and in turn helping to combat Lyme disease. Meanwhile, Red-tailed hawks are popular in New York City, since there is a high population of rabbits and squirrels to suit their diets.
“If there are lots of rabbits then you have lots of predators, and that helps keep the ecosystem happy and plants in check,” she said.
A handout given to the Scouts was titled, “I found a baby mammal. Now what?” First off, Wolfe recommended consulting with an adult.
“If you’re not quite sure if they’re abandoned, you can find a box that’s easy for a mom to get in but the baby cannot crawl out of,” she said. “If they are very tiny, you can get instant hand warmers and place a t-shirt on top, watch from afar, and then observe the mom returning.”
In 1992, Dr. Stephen Wyler opened Trylon Vet Care. For the past 25 years, he and his colleagues have been offering quality veterinary services, as well as coordinating local fundraisers and assisting in animal rescues and working with local schools.
As part of working toward their animal care badge, the Girl Scouts are organizing a cookie fundraiser at Trylon Vet Care to help play a role in supporting and caring for local wildlife.
In a session that followed Wolfe's presentation, Dr. Andino emphasized the importance of pets and how to care for them. She advised routine visits to the vet at least twice per year if they are healthy
“Everyone needs food, love, water, exercise, and healthcare,” she said.