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“A steward of the planet,” rehabilitator nurtures Westford’s wildlife


Update: This article has been updated to include additional information regarding the licensure process, as well regarding the animals in rehabilitation with Adam.

WESTFORD — For Avery Adam, it’s about giving wildlife a second chance. 

“We need to think about taking care of the world around us,” Adam told WestfordCAT. “It’s volunteer, and it’s a huge commitment”

Adam earns wildlife rehabilitation permit 

Adam, a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, aids injured animals in addition to her full-time job at the University of New Hampshire. She comes from a family of biologists, taking inspiration from her father, also a wildlife rehabilitator.

“When we were growing up back then, there really weren’t the same disease concerns as there are now,” she said. “We had several raccoons and they’d be in the house.”

She continued,” we’d feed them marshmallows in the kitchen. It was not the same as it was back then.”

squirrel wildlife rehabilitator Avery Adam
One of seven squirrels under the care of Avery Adam. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

After the pandemic hit, Avery chose to get certified through the state. The license requires participants to score at least 80% on the exam and work with a licensed veterinarian for certification.

“When the pandemic hit, it gave the perfect opportunity to take a course and study for the exam,” she said. “A vet has to sign off, because I have to get direction on medication administration from them.”

She continued, “I’m now listed on mass.gov, so anybody can call me,” she said. “Baby season is starting, so we’ll start getting phone calls soon.”

Adam to host wildlife for upcoming ‘baby season’

The cost of rehabilitation, Adam notes, is entirely out of pocket. She says she is “very fortunate” to be able to continue to rehabilitate local wildlife. Last year, Adam hosted 45 animals between July and December.

“I really started to work with the skunks, it was easy and maintainable space-wise,” she said.

young skunks for wildlife rehabilitator
Adam currently cares for three kits, baby squirrels, which she has to feed every three hours. These kits are approximately three weeks old, according to Adam. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

Adam currently houses three baby squirrels, or kits, in her indoor enclosure. She also houses four squirrels in her outdoor enclosure. Her outdoor enclosure serves as the last stop before wildlife are released.

wildlife rehabilitator outdoor enclosure
Adam’s outdoor enclosure custom built by her and her family, serves as the “last stop” for wildlife before they are released. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

According to Adam, an animal must not show “any signs” of attachment or friendliness toward humans.

“You can’t release them,” she said. “Unfortunately, your option is to find someone who will take them for educational purposes, or then you have to euthanize them.”

Adam can work with a limited number of birds, with migratory birds and birds of prey excluded from her license. Under her license, she may accept wild turkey, ruffled grouse, rock pigeon, mute swan, house sparrow, ring-neck pheasant and northern bobwhite.

Adam can transport excluded animals to a licensed veterinary clinic, however.

“We’re doing Wildlife Rides – a volunteer group on Facebook,” she said. “I’ve driven barn owls, red-tail hawks and I even got to transport a great horned owl.”

She continued, “it was such a privilege to be able to help those animals. To see a great horned owl up close – I was just so amazed.”

Passing on her legacy 

Adam hopes her efforts will continue to give her children and their friends a new perspective on wildlife.

“I want my kids to appreciate where we live, what we have around us and not hopefully go away before they grow up,” she said. “You have to steward the world that you’re living in.” 

She continued,” I love the fact that I can stop in the middle of the road because I see something and my kid was like ‘that’s so cool. The fact that my kids think it’s cool to stop and see what nature is doing, I can’t ask for anything more.”

Adam urges community members to remain vigilant to protect wildlife on roadways and to protect uninvited guests in households.

“If you see something, find a licensed person to take care of it,” she said. “When you’re seeing all of this firsthand, you kind of have a new perspective.” 

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.