A new group on the Brac is giving a helping hand to animals in need of a little TLC.
The Brac Wildlife Rehab group which had its first official meeting on Jan. 14, has committed itself to the care of injured wildlife on the island.
One of the group’s first official “patients” was an iguana known as “Iam,” which was hit by a car on Christmas Day.
“We provided warmth, security, fluids and food supplements until he was moving around normally, and then released him to wander at will,” said the group’s founder, Bonnie Scott-Edwards, who is well known on the Brac for her dedication to helping animals in need.
“This iguana was first captured and pit-tagged five years ago. He weighed 800 grams then and was 70cm [2.2 feet] long. Now he weighs almost 8 kilos [17.5 pounds] and is 128cm long – well over 4 feet,” she said.
At the first meeting, the iguana was checked by Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. Matthew’s University, Dr. Karen Rosenthal. Dr. Rosenthal examined the iguana and two injured parrots the group was also caring for, and was able to offer advice and tips.
“The wildlife on Cayman Brac is clearly in need of a support group like this one,” noted Jane Haakonsson, of the Department of Environment’s Terrestrial Resources Unit, writing in the latest issue of the Department’s newsletter, Flicker.
“Prior to this initiative, Ms. Bonnie has, with support from husband Gene, taken care of countless … animals from West Indian whistling ducks, owls, white-crowned pigeons, tropicbirds, boobies, frigates, parrots and egrets to curly tailed lizards, iguanas and snakes.”
Late last year, for example, Ms. Scott-Edwards helped care for an injured owl that was brought to Grand Cayman for further treatment.
At present, the group is made up of eight members, said Ms. Scott-Edwards.
“We will meet monthly, and we now have a Facebook page – Brac Wildlife Rehab Group – where we have requested help with needed supplies.
“Help has been forthcoming, as visitors to the island have donated and brought down heating pads, heat lamps and bulbs. We have offers of other supplies and are compiling a list of what is needed.”
Ms. Haakonsson noted that Faith Hospital is helping the group with medical supplies and the Terrestrial Resources Unit at the Department of Environment is helping coordinate veterinary assistance and inter-island transport of animals, as well as offering other support such as supplies and technical assistance.
Ms. Scott-Edwards was also happy to report that a donation of bumper stickers arrived from the International Reptile Conservation Foundation – enough for the Brac and Little Cayman as well.
“These, we hope, will encourage motorists to take more care to avoid hitting iguanas, and plans are being made to distribute the bumper stickers at the upcoming Agriculture Show,” said Ms. Scott-Edwards.
Iam the iguana has successfully returned to the wild, and the two parrots are doing well too after being offered a soft release – where the door to the aviary where they were being kept was left open and the birds were given the option to leave at will.
“While the one with no remaining wing damage has not returned, the one whose wing could not be completely repaired has taken up residence nearby,” said Ms. Scott.
“It was felt she might not be able to survive in the wild. That’s why we built the feeding station near the flight cage and why we leave the cage open, in case she wants more protection at any time. She sometimes goes back inside the flight cage but usually comes to the outdoor feeding station for a meal. She is also finding food herself from nearby trees.”
Membership in the Brac Wildlife Rehab group is open to anyone interested, and the next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11.
For more information or to help, call 917-7744 or visit www.facebook.com/BracWildRehab.