By Givio Student Network contributing blogger, Mary Carr.

How Diane Hime Became a Wildlife Rehabilitator

How often have you been driving and noticed an injured animal on the side of the road? Or witnessed a car accidentally hit a squirrel scurrying across the street? Most people move on, thinking “well, what can I do?” This is the story of Diane Hime. She’s not most people.

Diane works for North Country Wild Care in upstate New York, a nonprofit dedicated to the rehabilitation of wildlife. Her days are remarkably busy as she cares for a variety of animals, all with different injuries and needs. Diane has devoted her life to both rescuing and raising awareness for wildlife. But how did she discover that being a rehabilitator was her true calling? How did Diane find her Why?

As the saying goes, opportunity came knocking – kind of. Actually, it was more like a thump on the window, one night as she and her husband were watching a movie. To their surprise and concern they discovered the source was an owl, flying into the glass. Not wanting to ignore the now injured owl laying outside their window, Diane made a few calls, ultimately connecting with North Country Wild Care. The next day, she brought the injured owl to one of the volunteers in the organization.

Well, that’s it – job done. She did what she thought she could. Now the owl’s in good hands and Diane can go back to her everyday life. But that’s not how she really felt. She couldn’t stop thinking about that owl. What would happen to it?

So, Diane called back a couple days later. She discovered that the owl would be released back into the wild, to its own territory. “I was so in awe of what they did,” she recalled. In fact, she was so impressed she wanted to become a regular part of the organization, as a North Country Wild Care volunteer. After an orientation and some training, Diane joined the team, and the rest is history. “… I was so happy to be in a group with like-minded people and animal lovers.”

Diane’s life has never been the same since. Rehabilitating animals is a big job, especially when you have to take care of so many. Fawns, porcupines, foxes, raptors – all being nurtured and prepared to be sent back into the wild where they belong. And the calls keep coming. The organization receives over 2,000 calls a month.

But, Diane also educated us on something. Many of the well-meaning calls turn out to be false alarms. For example, frequently people come across young fawns, alone without their mother, and they’ll want to “rescue” what they believe is a young animal in danger. Diane explained that “the mother deer leaving her fawns alone is natural. The mother, who has a scent, is trying to protect the babies, who don’t have a scent, from predators. So leaving them behind as she searches for food is actually a good thing. If you care, leave them there!” Diane advises.

Diane’s love of animals doesn’t stop with her rehabilitation work. She also cares for horses, dogs, and educational birds on her property. Currently, Diane has three raptors that can’t be sent back to the wild because of permanent injuries. The birds have become part of her family, living and traveling with her as she educates the public and collects donations. The lucky birds even get to accompany the Himes family to Florida.

So what can you do if you love animals, like Diane, but can’t devote your life to caring for them? One way you can help is by supporting organizations like North Country Wild Care. Without donations, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do. And remember to report injured animals to your local wildlife rescue. There’s even an app for that called, Animal Help Now! It finds a local rehabilitator for you no matter where you are.

Big thanks to Diane, and all the animal rehabilitators out there, doing more than their part to keep our local wildlife thriving.

By Mary Carr, Givio Student Network Contributing Blogger