Archives > May 2017

Donation Items Needed for AIWC Garage Sale!!

Are there things you want to purge during your spring cleaning? If so, you’re just in time to donate much needed items to AIWC’s upcoming garage sale!! 

The last opportunity to donate items is June 3rd from 11 – 2 at the AIWC property.

Tell your friends, your family and your colleagues! 

Thank your for your support! 

We are happy to accept the following items:

Small working appliances, tools, dishware, artwork, frames, books, jewelry, home décor, pet accessories, chairs, children’s toys, garden tools and equipment, camping equipment, and sporting equipment.

Please no:
Clothes, magazines, large furniture, large exercise equipment, electronics such as box style TVs
or child car seats

For any questions regarding AIWC’s garage sale, please email us at

Ducklings and Goslings, Oh My!

Is there anything more endearing than a baby bird? Whether it’s a fluffy yellow-brown duckling, a waddling gosling or even a wide-eyed owl baby, baby birds have a soft spot in every wildlife lover’s heart. And with the blooms and greenery of spring come the birth of wildlife babies around Alberta.

AIWC has been receiving plenty of calls lately about ducklings and goslings.

Ducklings and goslings can be stranded for a number of reasons such as late hatching, injury, human/pet interference or simply getting lost.

Here are some tips in case you come across one of these baby birds:

Look for Mom! Female ducks tend to stay close to their babies and Mom could be nearby. If possible, it’s always best to leave babies with Mom because she knows exactly how to care for them. If you’re wondering whether or not the baby is flying solo, remember that ducklings stay under their mother’s care until they are ready to fly. If you observe a gosling or duckling alone for more than 45 minutes, the babies could be in trouble. Call AIWC.

It’s okay to move a baby duck that is injured or in danger. The mother duck will not reject the baby because of human scent.

Orphaned ducklings need professional care, right away. They can die from the cold because they can’t generate their own body heat. Keep in mind that ducklings are fragile and can be easily injured or bruised if mishandled. They are very fragile! Call AIWC!

Unlike geese, ducks won’t adopt lone ducklings. Ducks recognize their babies by sound and will notice the outsider. If you are holding a duckling that is “peeping” a mother duck should come running up right away!
(Geese on the other hand are fine with accepting new babies and don’t seem phased by the additions! In fact, AIWC volunteers have rescued and rehomed 46 geese and goslings this year).

Always remember that if a duckling or gosling’s parents are near by, you need to leave the baby where you found it.

It’s always okay to call AIWC for advice in any wildlife situation. For more information on how you can support AIWC, visit

By Nina Grossman, AIWC Volunteer

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”

-Margaret Mead







Poisons and Predators

This blog post is inspired by a recent bald eagle patient who was admitted to AIWC due to lead poisoning. I want to explore the different reasons behind how and why wildlife can become poisoned.

Some birds of prey die from secondary poisoning after feeding on waterfowl or deer containing lead shot as a result of ingestion or hunting (Government of Canada 2013, FWS 2015). Although lead bullets are banned across Canada, they are still widely used today (Gladue 1999, Government of Canada 2013, Williams 2017). Many of the lead shots that are fired don’t actually hit the intended target, and end up in the surrounding environment (Gladue 1999).

What happens to the lead once it ends up in the soil or a waterbody? It can accumulate in the tissues of living organisms and act as a poison to some species.

Bioaccumulation (also known as bioconcentration) is the effect whereby some metals and chemicals occur in higher concentrations in living organisms than they do in the surrounding environment, such as the water or soil (Freedman 2007).

Biomagnification (also known as food-web magnification) is the effect whereby top predators or species higher up in the food chain have higher concentrations of these metals and chemicals in their tissue (Freedman 2007).

Metals and chemicals that bioaccumulate tend to be absorbed and stored in the fat of the animal that consumes them, rather than excreted. The higher up on the food chain an animal is, the more organisms the animals may eat that contain metals and chemicals. The more the animal eats, the more metals and chemicals are absorbed. Additionally, the older an animal gets, the more contaminated the animal can become due to the accumulation of the substances over a longer period of time (Freedman 2007).

The most classic example that exists of bioaccumulation is that of DDT – Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (what a mouth full!). DDT was a widely-used pesticide in the past and has roots during World War II. It was highly effective at eliminating mosquito populations and therefore preventing soldiers and civilians from contracting diseases that the mosquitoes carried. Eventually, this pesticide was used globally and we began to see detrimental effects on birds higher up in the food chain, such as birds of prey. As the DDT accumulated in the soil and water it began to bioaccumulate in the plants, insects, rodents, fish, and other animals lower down in the food chain. Birds of prey ate these organisms and the effect of bioaccumulation continued. DDT affected the reproduction of many birds of prey, caused egg shells to be soft and kill the offspring inside or caused eggs not to hatch altogether.

The population of bald eagles in North America crashed to less than 500 individuals in the 1960s (estimates of the bald eagle population less than 200 years earlier were as many as 100,000) (FWS 2015). Thus, the use of DDT was banned in North America and most of the rest of the world and the bald eagle population has seen a health rebound as a result. However, it is still used in South America and other parts of the developing world (Freedmand 2007).

Another example of bioaccumulation is with the common loon and methylmercury. This bird is a top predator in many lakes across Canada and can contain concentrations of methylmercury so high that it impedes their reproduction (Freedman 2007).

There are also some other factors that come into play when an animal is exposed to a poison. The toxicity of a poison may impact organisms differently due to the exposure or dose of the poison, which can further impact an organism due to the concentration of the poison and the amount of time the animal is exposed (Freedman 2007). The vulnerability or tolerance of the organism to a specific poison will also impact the toxicity of a poison (Freedman 2007). Bald eagles are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning and it only takes a small amount of lead to result in severe poisoning (Williams 2017).

There are several ways that you can help prevent poisoning of wildlife, and this blog wants to stress the importance of:

  • using non-lead ammunition for hunting and clay pigeon target practice.
  • hunters burying entrails or discarding them in a way that other wildlife won’t have access to them (Williams 2017).

Lead can also be found in some fishing lures, sinkers and jigs and is a major cause of death among common loons in eastern Canada and the US (Government of Canada 2013). This can be prevented by ensuring non-lead fishing lures are used.

Animals can show a variety of symptoms associated with poisoning, including but not limited to weakness, inability to walk, stand or fly (Williams 2017). If you think you have spotted a wild animal that has been poisoned, please call us at 403-946-2361.

If you would like to help future patients who may need special care due to poisoning, please support us ( or contact us to see how you can help.

Another great way to help the wildlife is to educate children; we offer education programs to do just this! Head on over to our Wildlife Education Programs page ( for more information.

By Tayler Hamilton, AIWC Volunteer


Freedman, Bill. 2007. Environmental Science: A Canadian Perspective. Fourth Edition. Pearson Education Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

FWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service). 2015. Fact Sheet: Natural History, Ecology, and History of Recovery. Available at

Gladue, Yvonne Irene. 1999. Lead shot banned across the country. Alberta’s Aboriginal News Publication. Volume 7, Issue 10.

Government of Canada. 2013. Research, Wildlife and Landscape Science. Available at,viewfull&po=B5BB0941

Williams, Cassie. 2017. Hunters say non-toxic ammo hard to find as 7th lead-poisoned eagle found. CBC News. Available at

Alberta Wetlands

Wetlands play a crucial role in Alberta’s wilderness by providing habitat for hundreds of species. These permanent or temporary wet areas cover approximately twenty percent of the province and are essential to the water cycle and aquifer replenishment. Wetlands are capable of absorbing large amounts of water making them invaluable to flood mitigation. Additionally, the wide variety of soils and microorganisms in wetlands help to filter water of harmful toxins making it safer for animals and humans to consume.

There are five classes of wetland which may be identified based on the source of water, presence of peat and the types of vegetation supported. These include marshes, ponds, swamps, fens and bogs which may be found across the prairies and forests of Alberta.

Each type of wetland is home to many species ranging from zooplankton through to moose. Grasses, shrubs, and trees also feature differently in each wetland class, but all help to provide food and shelter to fish, frogs, birds, rodents and larger mammals. This makes wetlands a great place for people to experience biodiversity and engage with nature because there are so many opportunities to witness animals in action! If you’re lucky, you may see a beaver or muskrat busy at work, a paddling of ducks, brightly coloured migratory birds or a deer stopping to drink. Looking closer, you will likely find the water is teaming with tadpoles, water striders or snails.

While wetlands have often been viewed as a nuisance in the past, their value is increasingly recognized and measures are being taken to protect these areas and the animals that call them home.

You can help by learning more about wetlands and by supporting AIWC’s rehabilitation of wetland wildlife. By dropping off donations from our Wish List, participating in our annual Month of May Baby Shower or signing up for our next Volunteer intake in September, you will be contributing to the recovery and release of wetland creatures.

By Stephanie Ruddock, AIWC Volunteer






Month of May Baby Shower


All the signs of spring are here… the weather is getting warmer, tulips and daffodils have surfaced and the sweet songs of robins fill the air. Unfortunately, though, otherwise healthy baby hares have begun to arrive at AIWC due to unnecessary intervention by well-meaning members of the public.

Baby hares are one example of the many reasons why busy season has arrived at AIWC, and why it is just the beginning in terms of the numbers of animals who will come into our care during the spring and summer months.  History shows that our clinic can expect to have 200-300 patients in care between May and September – most of them babies such as bunnies, nestlings and skunk kits.

Please remember to keep this excerpt from last week’s blog in mind “a baby hare that appears abandoned may not be in any trouble at all but could be waiting for his or her mom to come back to feed them. Mother hares often leave their babies for hours during the day to avoid attracting predators with her scent or movement. Moving these babies can cause far more problems than leaving them. Before intervening with a lone baby or in any situation, give AIWC a call for advice”.

Other than leaving baby hares where you find them, there are many ways to help support AIWC’s wildlife babies this spring. Members of the community can get involved by simply finding out more about our Annual Month of May Baby Shower:

  • Enter our Feeders for Feathers contest!
  • Donate to our baby shower!
  • Attend our onsite talk!
  • Donate items from our wish list!
  • Buy a copy of Scared Skunk!

Please visit our website at for more details on ways to help during the month of May!