Wildlife Care Clinic fulfills students' passion

Wildlife Care Clinic fulfills students’ passion

Erica Eaves, a senior in animal ecology, and two of her co-workers pose with three of the clinic’s educational raptors. Eaves, pictured in the center, is holding a Barred owl. Jacie Garden, a senior in animal ecology on the left, is holding a Great Horned owl and Tasia Nielsen, a junior in animal science, is holding a Red Tailed Hawk. Photo Credit: Bob Elbert

Spring is the busiest time at the Wildlife Care Clinic. Erica Eaves can attest to that. Last April she spent one 10-hour day working with veterinarians trying to save a bobcat.

“The bobcat had been hit by a car and both its rear legs and pelvis were fractured,” Eaves said. “We spent most of the day with the bobcat, but we finally had to euthanize it.”

That was a trying day for Eaves, a senior in animal ecology, who is passionate about rehabilitating injured wild animals.

“It’s so rewarding to help animals get back to their natural habitat,” Eaves said.

Eaves knew she wanted to work with animals, but wasn’t interested in becoming a veterinarian. She didn’t know where her major would take her until she began working at the clinic. Now, she works 20 hours a week during the school year and up to 60 hours a week during the summer.

Walking through the three-room clinic, which is housed inside the Iowa State University Veterinary Medical Center, Eaves describes each animal’s history, injury and behavior. Her passion is evident in each description.

“I grew up catching frogs and other animals in our yard,” Eaves said. “I always knew I wanted to do something with animals.”

The clinic is staffed with five undergraduate students, who provide care to injured and orphaned wildlife on a daily basis.

“Most of our patients are here because of human contact,” Eaves said. “Many patients have been hit by cars, but several baby animals are brought in mistakenly because people think they are orphaned.”

The student-run clinic survives on donations. Students also market the program and its educational events. For more go to http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vmc/wcc.