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Animal rehabilitation center busy in weeks following derecho

Published: Sep. 5, 2020 at 6:33 PM CDT
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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG) -

Nearing four weeks since the powerful August 10th derecho blew through Iowa, the damage it caused is beginning to get fixed. However, there are some impacts you may not notice, animals and other wildlife displaced or injured in the storm.

“Usually when we get a storm we know we are going to get a few squirrels, a few birds, but this was major. There was injured animals everywhere, from squirrels, to hawks to bats,”said Tracy Belle, with Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation & Sanctuary in Independence.

Belle and her team work long days, bu since the derecho, they are even busier.

“We’ve got four or five different stages of babies (squirrels) right now, we’ve got some that are completely weaned and some that are starting to go, we don’t like you,” Belle said.

Belle said right after the storm, she rushed to the Cedar Rapids area to begin intake for injured or displaced wildlife, especially young animals.

“No one really knows where the mothers went,” she said.

On top of the 60 animals they took on, demand for her help has not stopped.

“We are getting animals in that people have tried to rehab over the last few weeks or they are either using the wrong formula or doing the best they can,” she said.

Belle said it’s important to contact the local DNR or animal rehabilitation center if you do find an animal in need. She said a licensed and permitted rehabilitator like herself can provide proper care. Care that comes at a cost to her operation.

“It’s hit us hard, it’s hit us hard. We have already dished out a few thousand dollars just in extra cages, extra formula, extra food, extra supplements,” Belle said.

While Belle hurries to find resources to keep her sanctuary running, she’s also worried about the future of wildlife impacted by the storm.

“We are concerned of where they are going to go, what they are going to use to build for winter, where they are going to go for winter,” she said.

Belle said she does have release sites and dates set for some animals and as hard as the work may be, she won’t stop.

“I know what it’s like to be cold, alone and hungry and if we can help anything, whether it be homeless kids or homeless animals, animals in need, it helps me,” she said.

To donate to Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary, visit its donation site here. Or to learn more, visit its Facebook page.

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