The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 4, 2008

Raccoons rescued eventually will be returned to wild

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer

When the wind blew down a tree on West Oklahoma Sunday night it destroyed the den of a family of raccoons.

Julie Miller, who is a wildlife rehabilitator, said Tuesday she has the baby raccoons and will raise them and return them to the wild. She will be responsible for feeding them and making sure they stay healthy until they are ready to be released.

“They will be raised and rehabilitated into the wild when they are developmentally ready,” she said.

Miller is one of four animal rehabilitators in the Enid area. She lives near Breckinridge and takes in all sizes of animals, she said. Miller and two of the other wildlife rehabilitators in the area have state and federal licenses, and one has a state license.

There were five infants in the raccoon family who are separated from their mother. Miller said placing them back with their mother would put in town near a busy street, which is not a good place. Moving the mother to the country would cause her to panic, Miller said, because she does not know where to find food. That would cause her to either harm the babies or abandon them, Miller said.

The baby raccoons, who are only a few days old, will stay with Miller until they are about 6 months old, then they will be returned to the wild. City workers found the babies when they came to cut up the tree that fell during Sunday’s stormy weather and get it out of the street. One worker sent his girlfriend to get the babies and Miller picked them up from her.

Losing their den is a fairly common occurrence for raccoons, especially in the spring, Miller said.

Miller said many people do not know there are people in the Enid area who rehabilitate animals to put them back in the wild. She also works with Vance Air Force Base, which has a problem with Mississippi kites. The birds are federally protected and fairly aggressive when people are around their tree. Entomologists on the base keep an eye on them and call Miller if they need to be moved.

Vance also has some kestrels, a small hawk, that live in hangars. The kestrels keep the mice and pigeon population down in the hangars. One female bird lives in one hangar and her mate lives in another. They have been there five years and raise a nest of babies in her hangar each year, she said.

“They say it is a lot easier to clean up after her than all the pigeons. She has learned to fly in and out of the building when the planes come in,” Miller said.

Area wildlife rehabilitators and their phone numbers are: Julie Miller, 446-5679; Eve Reim, 237-3835; Tina Pulis, (918) 808-5200; and Denise Covarrubias, 233-5717.