Serial murderer or animal helper?

I’ve had some interesting conversations with different people over the years, but the day a police officer asked me if I was a serial killer might be one of the most memorable.

I should probably explain that I wasn’t under arrest, at a police station, or crouched over a body. I was merely standing behind my car, looking through the trunk, and the officer happened to be beside me looking as well.

An owl being released back into the wild. PHOTO: Ann Brokelman
An owl being released back into the wild.
PHOTO: Ann Brokelman

What was in my trunk? Just the usual: two rolls of duct tape, rope, scissors, pliers, a hammer, cable ties (like the ones police use as plastic handcuffs), two large nets, tarps, latex gloves, heavy work gloves, a flashlight, ice cleats, various boxes, towels, hiking boots, and a few garbage bags. All pretty standard stuff from my point of view. It took a little while to explain everything to the officer, but he was having a good laugh by the end.

So why do I have all these items in my trunk? Well, a good girl scout is always prepared, and in all the time I’ve spent volunteering with animals I can promise that every one of those items can be incredibly important and possibly life-saving when it comes to an animal in distress.

Oh, and why was the officer at my car in the first place, you might ask? You didn’t think I was the only one who volunteers to help animals, did you? This wonderful man had been helping me release a barred owl, for The Owl Foundation, on a back country road.

Thanks to wildlife organizations like Toronto Wildlife Centre and The Owl Foundation, volunteers are making the difference between life and death for wildlife. To date I have released owls, hawks, pigeons, mink, foxes, cedar waxwings, robins, wild turkey, and many, many others. Thanks to my friend Chris for opening my eyes to animals and the volunteer work at wildlife centres.

I encourage anyone and everyone who is able to help to volunteer their time. We can always use more hands.

Keep a box, a towel, and a pair of gloves in your car and you might find you can help a bird or animal in distress. Bring on 2015.

On the Wild Side author and photographer Ann Brokelman releases an owl with grandchildren Cole and Reid. Below, an owl is released to the wild. PHOTO: Jennifer Brokelman
On the Wild Side author and photographer Ann Brokelman releases an owl with grandchildren Cole and Reid.
PHOTO: Jennifer Brokelman

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This is a great article that brings attention to the wild animals that may cross our paths and need our help. Please everyone remember to throw garbage away in trash cans, dispose of fishing tackle and line properly, polluting hurts us all and often ends up seriously injuring wildlife. Thank you Ann, TWC and other wildlife centres and volunteers that help all animals in need.

Enjoyed this article very much. We have seen Ann and the staff of the Toronto Wildlife Centre in action to save and work with sick or injured wildlife. Their care and dedication is incredible and we are fortunate (as are the animals) to have this Organization in our City.

Thank you so much Irene. Without caring people like you Irene we could never help the animals. Irene has saved 7 foxes. Thank you

Ann, you rock! Serial killer or not….lol.
In addition to some of the arsenal Ann carries (I have some, but not all that Ann carries in her car to assist wildlife), I’ve personally used my car floor mat to drag a snapping turtle across the road. Lay it in front of him (hint-pull him in the direction you found him travelling-he’ll try again once you leave if you don’t), use a stick to get him on and then drag him out of harm’s way. If we all did just a fraction of what Ann does….just imagine the wildlife that would be saved.

What a great idea for moving a turtle! I came across one on the side of a busy highway this summer – he was so large (and very peeved that I had picked him up) I could only just move him back to the wooded ditch where he came from – not where he wanted to go I am sure. If I had thought of this technique, the end of the story might have been better. I just hope that turtle changed his mind about crossing the road that afternoon.

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