Found hobbling along Dawson Road in Lorette, this loon – nicknamed Dawson – had little chance of survival.
By Marianne Curtis
On September 12, a lone loon was spotted on the ground by local residents behind the RM of Tache office in Lorette. After numerous unsuccessful attempts at corner the bird, the group of good intentioned residents eventually managed to capture it further west near the Dawson Trail Motor Inn.
“We’ve been trying to catch him for the past hour already,” stated one of the rescuers. “We don’t know what to do with it – we tried some places but because it’s not an endangered species no one will help.”
At this point, the bird was exhausted, its feet were bleeding and it appeared unable to fly. Unsure of what to do next, the group put the bird in the ditch, prepared to let nature take its course. However, fate intervened when I happened upon the scene and remembered a place called the Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization.
The Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization was founded in 1984 and a few years ago the centre adopted the name of Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre – around the same time as the facility relocated to Ile Des Chenes.
Reesa Atnikov, Centre Supervisor for Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre was on hand when I delivered the injured bird – nicknamed “Dawson” – to the facility. I quickly learned was while finding a loon in Lorette was an oddity, the bird could have crash landed on the street thinking it was landing in water.
“Loons sometimes land on a highway, thinking it is a river – unfortunately they are unable to take off again unless they are in water, which is why this loon could not fly away,” explained Atnikov. After being admitted into the Centre, wild animals are subjected to an exam and given whatever treatment required before it is released back into the wild.
“We admit over 1700 animals per year and accept all native Manitoban bird and reptile species as well as most mammals,” explained Atnikov. “We rely on private donations and memberships as well as some corporate sponsors.”
Throughout most of the year the facility employs only one full time person on staff and relies heavily on volunteers to help.
“The centre also has an education program that allows us to visit many schools and events throughout the year with one or more of our seven non-releasable Raptors teaching them about Manitoba’s wildlife and how best we can coexist,” Atnikov continued.
So what happened to the loon? Well, when I contacted the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre the next day, I was told that while the bird suffered injuries to its feet similar to having toenails clipped too short, it had no other injuries. Atnikov had already released it.
“We took him to the Red River – when we let him go, he called once and then dove under the surface and was gone,” Atnikov stated. “This was another successful rescue and release.”
For more information on the facility or to volunteer visit at www.wildlifehaven,ca
Twenty-four hours later, thanks to the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre, Dawson was declared healthy and returned to the wild.