2017 Recap and looking ahead for 2018

Friends of Cape Wildlife is delighted to be celebrating our first birthday! We had an extremely successful year due to compassionate and visionary people like you. The groundswell of public support has inspired us to launch the next steps: expanding our support to wildlife rehabilitators, education to the public and opening our organization to membership.

In 2017, with our initial goal to keep Cape Wildlife Center from closing its doors, FWC provided over $12,000 of direct operational necessities and our fundraising activities raised an additional $65,000 for the center. These contributions were instrumental in the successful operation of the center in 2017.

2017 Accomplishments 

• Trained and supervised 140 volunteers at Cape Wildlife Center.
• Published and distributed 10,000 weatherproof wildlife emergency cards with contact information for wildlife responders.
• Produced a sold-out Wildlife Hotline Workshop for animal caregivers and Massachusetts Animal Control Officers.
• Gave financial support to Wild Care and other local rehabilitators.
• Purchased a community lead analyzer currently in use at Cape Wildlife Center.
• Provided low-cost human rabies vaccinations to wildlife volunteers.
• Purchased a portable oxygen tank and nebulizer for wildlife rescue at Cape Wildlife Center.

Accomplishing all this, along with becoming an established 501(c)3 non-profit charity, is a testament to the dedication and passion fueling our mission. We were able to give out as much money as we have because we are an all-volunteer group with virtually no overhead. Almost every penny goes toward wildlife care.

But we can’t rest on our past accomplishments. Caring for wildlife requires constant fundraising. Wildlife rehabilitation is costly and those critters don’t come in with a healthcare plan or carrying cash. There is no municipal or government funding for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

In 2018, our goal is to assist in the support Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Wild Care in Orleans, and individual local wildlife rehabilitators throughout the Cape.

Here’s what we are planning:

• Implementing a cloud-based, 24/7 wildlife hotline manned by trained volunteers.
• Providing continuing education for the public on how to humanely respond to human/wildlife conflicts.
• Purchasing a portable incubator that can be shared by local individual rehabilitators.

So how can you help us to keep our diverse Cape wildlife healthy and cared for?

Donate once, donate monthly or become a member. You won’t get much in the way of pot holders, keychains or address labels. We don’t spend our money on anything that is not directly related to helping wildlife.

You will get a tax deduction for your donation. You will get recognition on our website and in our newsletters. You will also get direct access to anyone on the board of directors to listen to your concerns, ideas, and to answer your questions. You will not get a bureaucracy.

Our three levels of membership also get you invitations to our events, periodic newsletters, announcements/progress reports, and the knowledge that you are supporting the rescue, welfare and protection of wildlife on Cape Cod.

Yearly Membership levels: March 1, 2018 to March 1, 2019

$50. Eastern Box Turtle

$75. Snowy Owl

$100+ Red Fox

Please choose your level of membership by going to our donation and membership page:

or send a check directly to:

Friends of Cape Wildlife
102 Bradford Street
Provincetown, MA 02657

Our correspondence with you will be via email whenever possible to keep our operating costs as low as possible.

Thank you for your commitment to the Cape and supporting the preservation of its wildlife. We look forward to staying in touch.

The FCW Board of Directors,

Elizabeth G. Brooke, President
Caryn Ritchie, Vice President
Keith Ritchie, Treasurer
Margi O’Neill, Event Chair
Heather Fone, Photographer
Peggy DiMauro, Rehabilitator

Science Matters! Learn About The Eastern Coyote

When: Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018
Time: 12:00 to 1:30 PM
Where: Hyannis Library, 401 Main Street
Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Ecology: Myths vs. Facts
With Dr. Jon Way 

Are you on the fence about coyotes? Don’t know who to believe? Do coyotes pose a threat to humans? What about dogs and cats? Where did coyotes come from, are they invasive? What do they eat? Where do they live? You may find it hard to discriminate facts from fiction. You may be surprised to learn that people are exponentially more likely to be attacked by a dog than a coyote, that coyotes are monogamous, and they often mate for life. Wildlife laws do little to protect them and scientists are deeply concerned about gratuitous, indiscriminate killing of carnivores and consider “carnivore cleansing” whether in contests or trophy hunting as ecologically destructive practices.

If you believe that coyotes and other wildlife deserve better than to be slaughtered in killing contests or as trophies under the pretense of “management”, and if you still trust science over hyperbole and hysteria, then please join us to celebrate the charismatic eastern coyote in a talk given by nationally renowned carnivore biologist, Dr. Jonathan Way at ……from 12:00 to 1:30 Saturday, February 10, 2018. After the talk, we invite you to join us in a protest sponsored by Boston Animal Save at the gun store holding the killing contest, Powder Horn Outfitters, in Hyannis. If you can’t make both, don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Cape Cod’s beautiful wild song dogs.

About the speaker – Dr. Way is the author of more than 40 professional science publications. Writing from personal observations in his research and studies of eastern coywolves, Jon gives a lively discussion on the fascinating lives of the eastern coywolf, a curious, intelligent animal that shares the DNA from eastern wolves and western coyotes. Being wild dogs, they also share a heritage with our domestic dogs as members of the Canid family.

As a local Cape Codder, Jon is considered an authority on carnivores, and especially coyotes, and has been invited to speak regionally across New England as well as nationally and in Europe. Jon has provided interviews for Cape Cod radio for programs like Mindy Todd’s NPR On Point and is a frequent co-author and collaborator with the country’s most widely respected carnivore scientists, and his website promotes the conservation of eastern coyotes: www.EasternCoyoteResearch.com

Two prizes will be awarded for the signs best expressing why coyote or other wildlife killing contests are wrong. Prize one – a signed copy of Suburban Howls, by Jon Way and, Prize two – a signed copy of Tiggie: the Lure and Lore of Commercial Fishing in New England, by Charles Peluso and Sandy Macfarlane.

Talk Sponsored by Friends of Cape Wildlife and Louise Kane

 Our successful event brought over a hundred attendees with an interest in learning about the eastern coyote. Due to the limited size of the room, we had to break out into two sessions. Dr. Way was well received by all. Some photos from this day:

The Pelican’s Story

A very unusual visitor to Cape Cod!   During Hurricane Sandy this beautiful brown pelican was storm blown and ended up on Nantucket.  He was found at the Nantucket Transfer Station eating garbage and was transported to the Cape Wildlife Center for treatment for exhaustion and a wing droop.   The staff and volunteers all enjoyed taking care of this unusual patient and the pelican definitely enjoyed the TLC he received, especially the ‘flying fish’ delivery!  After a couple of weeks of rehabilitation, he was transferred to the Rhode Island Wildlife Center because they also had a storm blown brown pelican and the pair were ultimately flown back to Florida where they were released back into the wild.

Video and photos by Heather Fone Ⓒ 2018

Cape Wildlife Logo

Call for volunteers at the Cape Wildlife Center this fall

Would you like to be involved in helping wildlife on Cape Cod?

Come to the new volunteer orientation being offered this fall.

Cape Wildlife Center

Saturday October 14 1-3pm

4011 Main Street, Barnstable

Cape Wildlife Center’s mission is to protect wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation, and education. Each year Cape Wildlife Center receives nearly 2,000 patients and answers thousands of wildlife calls from the public. Cape Wildlife center receives only sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. No domestic or feral species are received or treated.

There is nothing more rewarding than watching healed wild animals be released back into their natural habitat. This is accomplished by the dedication and hard work of the veterinary and animal care staff and the large group of trained volunteers. Volunteers are used in many capacities and help keep the center running smoothly. 

For those interested in doing direct animal care, training and mentoring by skilled caregivers is provided. We see 225 species of wildlife so there is always something to learn and everyday is different. We also need volunteers to do grounds work and gardening, building repairs, transport, administrative, and reception area tasks. We operate three buildings on 4.5 acres, so we can use just about any skill you have. It all goes to help our facility take care of our patients.

Volunteer hours translate to dollars and are one of the best ways to keep our costs down so that all donations can go to animal care. Volunteers are an integral part of achieving our mission of caring for wildlife in need, teaching others about wildlife and encouraging humane stewardship of wildlife.

Your time, energy and commitment are invaluable to us.

Come to the orientation on October 14 and learn how you can become a part of the team.

Contact caryn@friendsofcapewildlife.org to reserve a spot.





The Osprey’s Story

by Caryn Ritchie

Mike Kochelin is the son in law of my neighbor Carol. I have known him and his family for about 15 years.  He is an avid wildlife photographer, and a recently retired engineer.  He is very much an advocate of all forms of wildlife but he especially loves birds.

A few years back he helped me rescue a swan with fishing line in his neck.  Thanksgiving night we were together having a drink and he asked what he could do to help Cape Wildlife Center and I kiddingly suggested he buy the facility and run it.

He wasn’t ready to do that and asked if there was anything else he could do to help.  I told him we needed to get an osprey, whose nest hit power lines and caught on fire, to Florida ASAP as the weather was getting too cold up here and it needed further rehabilitation.  He volunteered to drive it there nonstop.  The next day I checked with him again when neither of us was drinking, and he was still willing and excited to do this.

Cape Wildlife’s Center Dr. Lynn Miller cleared it with HSUS and plans were set in motion for the transport.  Mike rented a brand new suburban for the trip, while we prepared the bird for travel.  The morning of the trip the osprey was fed well, given subcutaneous fluids, and nestled in his deluxe carrier.  Mike took along some capelin in case of hunger, set his GPS and headed south.

While at South Florida Wildlife Center, the osprey recently underwent an imping procedure. SFWC’s Dr. Renata Schneider performed the imping, in which the osprey’s damaged feathers were repaired by carefully matching and attaching feathers which came from another bird of the same species. This gave the recovering osprey the feather structure he needed to fly well as his new feathers grow in. The surgery was a success.

On February 4th the osprey was set free.

Release into the Wild was Otter this World

by Katy Ward

WELLFLEET – A pair of orphaned North American river otters were released on Friday at the Herring River tidal gate on Chequessett Neck Road after being cared for and raised by volunteers at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable. “The release was so joyful,” Cape Wildlife Center Director Lynn Miller said on Tuesday. “Watching them recover from orphanage and grow healthy and strong is very rewarding. We were pretty confident they were going to be OK. It was time for them to head out on their own.”

The seven-week old male was found at Constable Beach in Harwich, and the female was found at an unknown location in Carver. Both were brought to the center in May 2016. “Mum was no longer available,” Miller said about the pups. “The most likely scenario was that mum was out foraging and was killed. It could have been from anything.” The pups were not related, and each was brought in with siblings, but only the two survived. “That’s the sad part about what we do [at Cape Wildlife]. We see animals not the in the greatest of shape, so it can be really hard on everybody. But we do this because we care,” Miller said. “We brought them in and made sure they were getting everything they needed in terms of a balanced diet.” The otters needed to reach a mature weight – at 28 lbs. for the male and 21 lbs. for the female they qualified for release. Even though they weren’t siblings, they formed a close bond, and Miller thinks they will stay together now that they’re free.

Getting the otters prepped for transport to Wellfleet was no easy task. “They thought it was a great game,” Miller said, laughing that it was like playing chase. “The female was a bit timid, but the male thought it was some sort of game and he was winning. It was very entertaining.”

Otters are carnivorous mammals that typically weigh between 11 and 31 lbs., and are part of the Mustelidae family, which include weasels, ferrets, badgers and minks. They are highly curious and intelligent animals, which Miller said can sometimes lead to their downfall. “Their curiosity can lead them into dangerous situations, but it’s a natural behavior,” she said, adding that many otters are killed while exploring and crossing terrains. “Cars are the number one cause [of death]. Humans have a huge impact on animals. We are the basis of mortalities. Ninety to 95 percent of the animals we receive (injured) are because of human interaction.”


It is unclear what the otter population is on Cape Cod, but Miller and other animal advocates say there are quite a few swimming and playing in our waters. “Otters are all over Cape Cod,” said tracking expert Diane Boretos from Call of the Wild Environmental Services. “If people are around [the animals] usually don’t expose themselves. They’re a bit shy. But I’ve watched them run up and down river banks. They have wonderful personalities.” Boretos said that you can tell if an otter is in the area because of what she calls “otter-runs.” “Their feet are so short and their bellies rub on the ground making an indent,” she said. “They are mainly aquatic animals, but they will travel great distances inland to look for mates, food or other areas to inhabit.” Miller agreed. “Otters are very playful,” she said. “They especially love the snow. If you come across a slicked down area in a channel it could quite possibly be otters. Usually, you will only see them at the right place at the right time.”

Miller said many factors played a role in deciding where the otters would be released. “I was looking for a site where there was very little chance they would need to cross roads, not too many houses nearby, plenty of food, good weather conditions and lots of wild areas they could integrate into,” she said. “I wanted to give them an opportunity to find their feet, literally, and integrate naturally back into the system.” With the help of 25 volunteers and the assistance of Environment Police Sgt. Kevin Clayton the two otters were released successfully. “I knew as soon as they got in the water they felt liberated. It was really cute,” said Miller. “The thing that was the icing on the cake for me was as we left we stopped and watched them. The male had found something to eat. The fact that he was eating right away, well, that was a biggie for me. I felt confident these animals would transition just fine.”

A Baby Possum Story

This Sweet Girl is a Fighter

by Caryn Ritchie

This sweet girl arrived as an orphan baby opossum. She was given to a home wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in animal husbandry of opossums. It was discovered that this baby had a severe eye injury and no sight in that eye. Other than that injury, she was in good health.

The decision was made for her to undergo surgery to remove her eye. I was there for her surgery, and it was very successful. She spent some postoperative time at the clinic to recover before returning to complete her rehabilitation.

Unfortunately she developed an infection and numerous abscesses. The outlook was looking grim, but she had other ideas.

She fought the infection, healed beautifully and returned to her rehabilitation. There she was taught how to be a wild opossum and was prepared for release as a wild animal.

Don’t you love a happy ending?

Volunteer Training February 4 2017

Thirty-two volunteers attended a refresher seminar at the Cape Wildlife Center given by Dr. Lynn Miller. This was held for existing CWC volunteers to have an opportunity to learn about new techniques in wildlife care and rehabilitation, and to practice some of their old skills. There was a lecture component on physical assessment, triage skills, including fluids and medication administration, and splinting of broken bones. Dr. Miller reviewed proper techniques to avoid spreading disease to other patients and to our selves. She also discussed general husbandry. This was followed by a hands -on session where these skills were practiced on cadaver animals.

The level of commitment and skill of these volunteers was impressive. We thank them for wanting to learn as much as possible and for giving up an entire Saturday of their own time to do so. Thank you also to Dr. Miller for sharing her time and her vast store of knowledge.

Why is Wildlife Rehabilitation so Important for Cape Cod

by Diane Boretos, P.W.S. Call of the Wild Environmental Services

The wildlife on Cape Cod enhances the quality of our lives on a daily basis. Growing up in Falmouth, I often often saw deer, bobwhite quail, pheasant and foxes pass by our yard. It was always a thrill to see them.

In spite of the fact that we have evolved with these other beings over the millennia, many humans do not recognize and embrace their intrinsic connection to all the species who comprise our world.

As primates still residing in trees, we learned about predators, prey, mobility, food sources, etc. By watching what other species were doing in the savannas and in the forests, we learned to survive. And there are lessons we can continue to learn now.

I have experienced precognition in the eyes of  bears, wolves, foxes, raccoons, crows and whales. They remember us and how we influence their lives.

And as we live alongside of them, we can remember to return the gift of their extraordinary presence with compassionate stewardship and care when they are orphaned, injured or ill. Protecting the defenseless is among the best qualities of our species.

Peking Duck Story

An Unusual “not quite wildlife” Cape Wildlife Center Story

by Elizabeth Brooke with Lynn Miller

One night there was call from the Barnstable Animal Control Officer – “Could you admit a duck please?” So Lynn Miller, the Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation, popped back to the center. Turns out it was a Peking duck from Hyannis; obviously a well-known girl, and cared about. Lynn did a quick exam as the wing was quite odd and realized it was a very old injury. She suspected a dislocation at the wrist, so nothing to be done. Lynn gave her food and water and wished her good night. As she drove out, there was a Police vehicle in the drive only there to enquire how the duck was.

The next morning Peking Duck was quite happy to see staff arrive and she had eaten and drunk everything. The next step was to start finding a permanent home when Lynn got a call from Amy Croteau, the Department of Natural Resources Officer, in Barnstable. “We have a permanent home (Barnstable Farm and Pet, Lombard Ave, West Barnstable) for her and will pick her up this morning”. After she was on her way another call came in; “How is the duck?”

What a great way to start a day – to know so many Cape Codders truly care about our animals.