BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Boca Grande is a place of beauty with abundant wildlife, and if you’re here long enough, there are many interesting species of birds and animals to encounter. Sometimes an encounter can go badly, though, when it’s a sick or injured animal that is found.
Recently a bird was dropped off at the island’s public service building, but no word was given to anyone there. Luckily the bird was found in time to be cared for, but it might not turn out like that every time.
If you find a bird or animal in distress and the timing is bad (very early morning or late at night), your options are limited. If you do have to drop the animal off, please let someone know. The public safety building is manned at all times, and there is an after-hours buzzer.
That is not the most ideal option, though. What the sheriff’s deputies or firefighters will do is call Blanche or Jacques Boudreau, two of the most exhausted people on the island. Not only do they provide animal rescue services to the island and surrounding area, they also own and operate the Loose Caboose Restaurant. It’s not unusual for the Boudreaus to have to make two, or three, even four trips a day to the facility on Border Road, the Wildlife Center of Venice, where they take the animals and birds.
Animals with obvious life-threatening injuries, as well as baby animals and birds, need to be treated and kept warm immediately. Other animals can wait it out for a short period of time, but the sooner treatment is administered, the better.
Blanche said if there’s an emergency situation, she can be reached at (941) 421-2805. Jacques is at (941) 421-2803.
Island resident Nancy Lingeman has always been involved with the Wildlife Center as well. While she’s primarily a transport person now, I recall a time a few years ago, scrambling out on the rocks at the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse beach to check out the remains of a dead sea turtle. While I was red-faced and out of breath, she tripped along as lightly as a goat on those perilous rocks.
Volunteers are needed for the rescue program. The people who work at the Wildlife Center are exceptional. Many people have come and gone as volunteers, but those who have stayed, like Blanche and Jacques, are true treasures. They have saved countless lives.
I will always think of Blanche on a Halloween day just a couple of years ago. She had dressed as a gorilla for the Halloween Walk, but, as Murphy’s Law would have it, she got a call about a bird in distress. Imagine what people thought as they saw a gorilla chasing a pelican by the Boca Grande Club. Yes, she’s just that dedicated.
Please consider giving some of your time to this program. It is an amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the birds and animals that we never get to see except from a distance.
If you can transport or handle sick or injured birds or animals, call Blanche, Jacques or the Wildlife Center of Venice at (941) 484-9657.
Marcy Shortuse is the editor of the Boca Beacon.
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