The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota had its busiest year ever in 2012.
The emergency center treated more than 8,870 animals. That was 200 more than in 2010, previously the center's busiest year.
Executive Director Phil Jenni said the staff treats any animal that is brought in, including some, like squirrels, that many people may regard as pests.
"Somebody cared enough for the well-being of this animal, no matter what it was, to bring it to us," Jenni said, "and that kind of modeling of care and compassion and stewardship ought to be encouraged, and it's really what motivates us more than anything else."
Jenni said admissions are seasonal: lots of baby animals in the spring, others in the fall.
"Trumpeter swans come in with lead poisoning, especially this time of year, and treatment of swans with lead poisoning is long, laborious, expensive," he said. "It costs over $50 a day in direct care for a swan with lead poisoning, and it's not uncommon for us to have them 60-90 days, but whatever it takes, we'll do."
There were also many crows showing signs of West Nile virus this year. "In previous cases, once an animal was infected with West Nile, it was almost 100 percent mortality," he said. "There's a new strain, though, that there's a belief that maybe the mortality rate is lower and that there are certain things we can do.
"Most of the time the treatment is rest and feeding, just like humans need when they have flu."
Jenni said the number of admissions tends to reflect the weather: When it's nice enough for people to be outdoors, they bring in more injured or sick animals for treatment.
He added that it's often children who bring in sick or injured baby animals, and he said their experience in doing so can have a big impact on the way they view the world.
The center, in Roseville, depends on volunteers and contributions.
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