Think twice before ‘rescuing’ young wildlife

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recommends, ‘If you care, leave them there’

DOVER – Whether in their own backyards or while taking a walk outdoors, Delawareans are likely to encounter young wildlife this time of year. While some young animals appear to be abandoned, usually they are not. In most cases, their mothers are watching over them somewhere nearby and waiting for you to move on. The Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds well-meaning Delawareans that when encountering young wildlife, regardless of species, the best thing you can do is to leave the animals alone.

Many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, leave their young while they forage for food, visiting the young only a few times a day. This tactic, in addition to the young’s natural instinct to lay quietly while waiting for its parent to return, actually helps protect the young from predators by drawing less attention to them.

Removing or handling wildlife in any way can be harmful to both humans and wildlife. Precautions to take with both juvenile and adult wild animals include:If you see a young wild animal alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, which could take several hours.

  • Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain.
  • Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can affect you or your pets, such as fleas, ticks, or rabies.
  • Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep any wild animal in Delaware.

If a young wild animal appears injured or you are certain its parent is dead, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife during business hours Monday-Friday at 302-739-9912, or after hours and weekends at 800-523-3336, to determine the appropriate course of action, not only for your own safety, but also to help ensure the best possible outcome for the wild animal. Taking a wild animal from the wild is almost certainly ensuring it will not survive, so DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife advises, “If you care, leave them there.”

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 141


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation and the Delaware Zoological Society announce the spring opening of the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington beginning March 10

WILMINGTON – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation and the Delaware Zoological Society will open the Brandywine Zoo for the season with a weekend of festivities from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11.

Visitors can tour the zoo’s “Curiosity Learning Stations,” and learn from zookeepers what the animals did during the winter season, including finding out if the zoo’s red panda took a trip, guessing which avian changed the color of her feathers, and discovering whether the bobcat picked the Eagles to win the Superbowl.

“The opening of the Brandywine Zoo is a rite of spring, and a time for fun and education for kids of all ages,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “There are more than a hundred animals to be seen and programs to enjoy throughout the season. The Brandywine Zoo is a true Delaware gem – a serene yet wild place set in beautiful Brandywine Park. I encourage everyone to come and visit Delaware’s only zoo.”

The Brandywine Zoo is managed by the Division of Parks & Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), and is one of over 200 accredited zoos and aquariums in North America, a distinction that marks its commitment to providing excellent care for animals.

“The start of a new season at the Brandywine Zoo is always an exciting time,” said Michael T. Allen, Executive Director of the Delaware Zoological Society. “We are delighted to welcome visitors to the zoo to learn more about our mission of conservation and education. While we don’t have any big announcements yet, stay tuned for some new animals that will be joining us later in 2018.”

The Brandywine Zoo opened in 1905 in Brandywine Park in Wilmington, and is located high above the banks of the Brandywine River. Its residents include red pandas, condors, river otters, burrowing owls, pygmy goats, llamas, rheas, the capybara (the world’s largest rodent), and other mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians native to the Americas, and the temperate areas of Asia. A total of 125 animals live at the zoo, although several are not on exhibit and reserved for the Travelling Zoo program. Many of the animals are rescues, unable to be returned to the wild. The zoo has a small petting zoo area, and offers frequent close encounter programs where visitors may meet animals up- close. The schedule for special events, daily programs, education workshops, and spring, summer and holiday camps, is on the zoo website. The zoo is fully accessible.

For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/attractions/brandywine-zoo/ or www.brandywinezoo.org.

Vol. 48, No. 45

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


Protect Yourself and Your Animals During Cold Weather

picture of thermometer showing temps under zeroDOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is reminding residents to prepare both themselves and their animals as temperatures dip dangerously low this week. The National Weather Service is possible snowfall across the state Wednesday night into Thursday and near-record low temperatures with gusty winds Friday and Saturday.

Code Purple overnight shelters are activated across the state for people who are homeless, with additional nights expected through the weekend. Since most Code Purple sites use volunteers to manage operations, the activation and implementation vary by county and site. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, visit www.delaware211.org and click on the Code Purple button, or call the Delaware Housing Alliance’s Centralized Intake Line at 302-654-0126, ext. 112.

Hypothermia and Frostbite

Hypothermia is one of the greatest health risks to people in cold and freezing temperatures. Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, can occur in cold weather or if a person becomes chilled by rain. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected.

Prevent problems before they occur:
When heading out in cold weather, remember the following:

  • Water-resistant or waterproof outerwear is advisable to reduce the risk of hypothermia. Dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes, including extra socks, which can be removed if they become damp. Wear warm, comfortable shoes.
  • Wear hats, water-resistant coats, scarves or knit masks to cover the face and mouth, and gloves or mittens. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Perspiration can increase heat loss, and wet clothing can chill the body rapidly.
  • When exerting yourself, it is important to remain hydrated by drinking water and other non-caffeinated beverages. Consuming alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can also cause the body to lose heat more rapidly.
  • Cold weather can put extra strain on the heart, so individuals with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctors’ advice about exerting themselves in the cold.

Recognize the symptoms of frostbite:

Frostbite, an injury to the body that is caused by freezing, is another significant health risk in cold and freezing temperatures. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite increases for people with reduced blood circulation and among those who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin – frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

  • A white or grayish-yellow skin area
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
  • Numbness

A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.

For more information on cold weather preparation, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html.

Protect your pet during cold weather:

Harsh weather conditions and cold temperatures can also be harmful to your pet. Take steps to keep them warm and healthy this winter:

  • Bring pets indoors. This is the safest place for your pet during cold temperatures. Short-haired pets or very young or old pets should never be left outdoors in cold temperatures, and all pet dogs and cats should be brought indoors when the temperature falls below freezing. According to Delaware law, dogs cannot be left outdoors during hazardous weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service. DPH urges people to closely monitor weather updates.
  • Protect outdoor pets from the elements. If your pet must be outdoors, you must provide a dry, draft-free shelter from the elements that contains moisture-resistant bedding such as straw or cedar shavings, which will help pets retain body heat. Housing should be appropriately sized for the animal and designed for animal sheltering. Pet owners should also provide a water-proof flap over the doorway to protect from wind and rain.
  • Ensure access to water at all times. Frequently check water bowls to ensure water is not frozen. If you typically use a metal watering bowl, replace it with plastic as a pet’s tongue can get stuck to metal in cold temperatures.
  • Additional food may be needed. Animals burn more calories in cold temperatures in order to stay warm, so you may need to increase the amount of food you provide. Check with your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs in cold weather.
  • Outdoor cats need attention, too. Whether outdoor cats are owned, stray, or feral, they need the same protection from cold weather as your pets. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, provide them with dry, warm shelter, as well as food and water to help them survive dangerously low temperatures. For your own safety, do not handle any unfamiliar animals, particularly if the rabies vaccination status is unknown. An animal may have rabies and not exhibit any external signs.

If you see a pet that has been left outdoors in cold temperatures without proper shelter or protection from the elements, food, or water, report it immediately to the Delaware Animal Services Hotline at 302-255-4646. For more information, visit: https://animalservices.delaware.gov/.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


31 Severely Neglected Animals Rescued in Seaford

DOVER – On Sunday, October 8, 2017, the Division of Public Health, Delaware Office of Animal Welfare received a tip about a property in the Seaford area with neglected animals. After visiting the site and obtaining a search warrant, Delaware Animal Services (DAS), the state’s animal control and cruelty enforcement unit, found approximately 43 dead dogs and took into custody another 32 animals, including 31 dogs and a cat.

Of the animals seized, 27 were severely ill and were taken for emergency veterinary care, where one had to be euthanized. The surviving 31 animals are recovering at Brandywine Valley SPCA’s Georgetown campus for further medical care and sheltering.

The investigation is ongoing and charges will be forthcoming. The Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) urges anyone with information on this case or to report possible animal cruelty to call 302-255-4646. OAW enforces animal cruelty, animal control, and rabies laws within the State of Delaware.

The Division of Public Health would like to thank Brandywine SPCA, the Seaford Fire Department and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for their help and support at the home site.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


OAW Holds Large Animal Rescue Course in Harrington

HARRINGTON – In the event of an accident, emergency or natural disaster, such as Hurricanes Harvey or Irma, animals of all sizes may need help. That’s why the Division of Public Health Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) held a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course Friday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. The training was conducted by OAW’s Delaware Animal Response (DAR) team in conjunction with the Delaware State Fire School.

In background mock horse, Randy the Rescue horse, waits to be used for other demonstrations.

The first-of-its-kind course in Delaware prepared volunteers and emergency responders to rescue large animals from dangerous situations, like what is happening in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, where livestock, horses and even dolphins are in desperate need of rescue.

“The potential for disasters and emergencies involving large animals and livestock in Delaware is great,” said Delaware Animal Response Coordinator Karen Clark. “We feel it is vital to provide our emergency responders with the training, knowledge, and expertise to safely handle any large animal and livestock emergency situation that can arise.”

Students learn to heard horses in rescue course.

Attendees learned about the latest rescue concepts, techniques and equipment with hands-on practice. While the course is designed to concentrate on handling horses during emergency incidents, the skills learned can be applied to assist livestock, exotics and zoo animals. Training sessions included rescues from a barn fire, trench, mud and overturned trailers, and an evening search.

Funding for the TLAER course was provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

The DAR program was established in response to lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, when many people would not leave home without their pets and many pets had to be left behind by those who did evacuate. It became clear that pets must be included in emergency planning for the safety and welfare of all. Congress then passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires states to take into account the needs of household and service animals before, during, and after an emergency or disaster.

To become a Delaware Animal Response program volunteer, contact Karen Clark at 302-242-3594.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.