Freedom and Fulfillment
Passion and Purpose
Health and Well Being
Hope for Wildlife: Because they Matter
Hope was born and raised in Argyle, Nova Scotia. She spent most of her time outdoors as a child, enjoying everything the natural world had to offer. Hope knew that she wanted to work with animals in some capacity, and after missing the ocean terribly while attending college in Truro, she knew she wanted to live and be near the sea.
While working at Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital as a Manager, Hope took in her first rehab animal in 1995 - a robin that had been attacked by a cat. Researching how to care for the bird inspired her to learn more about injured wildlife, and as her knowledge grew, colleagues began sending wildlife-related calls her way.
Later that year, she became Certified in Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Association. Hope shared that she had a very good job offer as a wildlife rehabilitator in Ontario, but when she thought about leaving Nova Scotia, she realized she simply couldn't. It was shortly after this that Hope really dug in and committed to starting a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre "at home" and that is when her journey and life’s passion and purpose really began.
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Welcome to the Heart Soul Wisdom Podcast, a journey of self discovery and transformation. Moira Sutton and her amazing guests share real life stories, tools and strategies to inspire and empower you have to create and live your best life. Come along on the journey and finally, blast through any fears, obstacles and challenges that have held you back in the past so you can live your life with the joy, passion and happiness that you desire. Now, here's your host Create the Life you Love, Empowerment Life Coach, Moira Sutton
Moira Sutton 0:58
Welcome to season three, Episode 54 Because they matter with our very own special Nova Scotia guest, founder and director of Hope for Wildlife Hope Swinimer. Hope was born and raised in Argyle, Nova Scotia. She spent most of her time outdoors as a child, enjoying everything the natural world had to offer. Hope knew that she wanted to work with animals in some capacity, and after missing the ocean terribly while attending college at Truro, she knew she wanted to live and be near the sea. While working at Dartmouth, veterinarian hospital as a manager, Hope took in her first rehab animal in 1995, a Robin that had been attacked by a cat. Researching how to care for the bird inspired her to learn more about injured wildlife. And as her knowledge grew, colleagues began sending wildlife related calls her way, we're going to dive into that one. Later that year, she became certified in basic Wildlife Rehab from the International Wildlife Rehab Association. Hopes shared that she had a very good job offer as a wildlife rehabilitator in Ontario. But when she thought about leaving her home, Nova Scotia, she realized she simply couldn't do that. It was shortly after that, Hope really dug in and dove in and committed herself to starting a wildlife rehabilitation center at home. And that is when her journey and her life's passion and purpose really began. So without further adieu, I'd like to welcome a very warm welcome and introduce you to Hope Swinimer, Welcome Hope.
Hope Swinimer 2:39
Thank you for having me. It's great. Good to be here.
Moira Sutton 2:41
Oh, you know, we're 10 months here in Nova Scotia now and the people that we meet like you, and thank you for having my family at your center. And you're so warm, and people know you here and they can't wait to hear all about you today in this interview. And this is the first special we're doing bringing Nova Scotia people onto the show, because I want to highlight just how special the people are here and the culture what everybody is doing here, especially you.
So Hope, we were just saying before we started, you know, how's your day going? And how many calls have you already had like starting what time this morning.
Hope Swinimer 3:20
I usually start answering the switchboard around 7am Every morning, and I had 100 calls by the time you called me. So on a beautiful sunny day in Nova Scotia, we can have anywhere from 100 to 300 calls a day. And that doesn't really count the emails or the text messages. So it's a very busy job.
Moira Sutton 3:42
And how many staff do you have like to handle all that? Because you go out and get a lot of these animals? Do people bring them in? Or do they know how you know - don't touch the animal, they might injure it more?
Hope Swinimer 3:53
Exactly I mean, the phone is so important because people are calling with their questions like what do I do? There's a bird on the ground should I intervene. And so each and every call is so important, because that's when you can explain how nature works like this time of year, there's lots of birds on the ground, you know, do you see a mother flying down to feed it everything is as it should be? And thank heavens, we can just take a little photo these days, and they can text that photo to me. And I can certainly tell a lot just from looking at the animal. So I consider the phone you know the very first impression the very first chance I get to talk to people that really care about nature. So it's a job of always done and I love it. I usually do it seven days a week from seven till noon. And then I have other people that help out in the afternoons and evenings but it's it is difficult to run a charitable society just because you need so much help and they just charities just wouldn't exist without this wonderful group of people that stand behind you are there with you working side by side with you and we have over 250 different volunteers and some of them are out on the road picking up animals, they take a little course they learn what they need to know before heading out. Some are, you know, working in our office doing administrative duties, some are answering the phone like me, some are feeding babies, some are cleaning cages, and some are in our hospital doing the medical work that needs to be done. Some are at our drop off greeting the public when they bring these injured animals in. So kind of gives you a feeling of how big it can be and how many people it takes to make it work.
Moira Sutton 5:34
Well, so your Eastern Shore wildlife rescue and rehab center was the first privately owned Wildlife Rehab Center in Nova Scotia. So as you you grew, you started off with that little Robin that you you know, you held that was attacked by the cat, but then you move to a larger property. And you moved that to see for how did that all happen? What was that process like for you? Did you just keep growing every week? And you knew that this was going to be you? Or did you even envision you were going to be this big.
Hope Swinimer 6:04
I don't think I ever envisioned I just knew I was gonna go with it. I was committed. And even though a lot of people would discourage one from this type of lifestyle, I've never been been more happy. And I consider myself an incredibly lucky person. And happy person to be doing what I love to do.
Moira Sutton 6:23
Is it hard work?
Hope Swinimer 6:24
Yes. In each and every day is exciting each and every day you learn something new. And you meet people that are just just wonderful. And I I just think the whole combination of helping nature, helping to educate, working with people that are like minded. It just grows and grows every single day. So what started is like 30 or 40 patients a year has grown into 7500 animals that we had in last year alone.
Moira Sutton 6:52
Wow that's huge! So you're in Seaforth, and you know, you feel that's a perfect location. And it also reminded you of our girl. Tell us a bit about that.
Hope Swinimer 7:05
When I saw this property, I I just went to the door and knocked on the door and said, Hey, you would never think of selling this property, would you? And the gentleman that has just said no, we love it here. It's the prettiest place Seaforth and I said, I totally agree it is gorgeous. And I left in my name and number. And in the meantime, I found another little habitat that worked well it was just down the road. And but I knew as soon as I moved there, I would outgrow it very quickly because I had close neighbors. And it's really difficult to do something like this, you know if you have a lot of people in the area. So one day, probably about four years after I approached him, I received a phone call. And it was a Friday night and he said hope I'm ready to sell. I said I'll be right over and I didn't give him a chance to reconsider. I drove over that night. I think it was in his yard five minutes later, and we agreed on a price and we just went straight forward from there. And this property has worked out so beautifully for us and the animals and I think it will be home for a very, very long time. Isn't that an amazing story?
Moira Sutton 8:11
Now your center was established as a charitable, as you said earlier, charitable Wildlife Rehab and education organization. What was that process of establishing a licensing process? For you know, from the Department of Natural Resources? Was that a hard process to go? Or were you the first one that did this? How did that unfold?
Hope Swinimer 8:31
It really was and I you know, I was a little naive to begin with. And I, you know, I went and did all my homework I studied I went to rehabs all over somewhere close just next door in New Brunswick. And somewhere much further away. I think I went to Chattanooga to a Wildlife Rehab Center there. I just went everywhere I could go to get experience and learn. And I took my courses and I set up my library and I learned all about nutrition. And I had my medical team on board. So I just started doing it. Wrong move. I did not realize that you needed a special permit to work with wildlife. So I was only open for about six months. And there was a knock that came on my door. And they said it was Department of Natural Resources. And they said hope what you're doing is illegal. You do not have a permit to this to do this. And you need to stop and I invited them in there was Jenny and Doug Archibald. And they came into my kitchen and we sat down at the kitchen table. And I said what do we need to do to make this legal? And the process started? And it took about two years before I became a legal entity. And we were the first you know, privately owned, non government funded non government orientated facility in Nova Scotia to be allowed to rehabilitate, and it was pretty exciting. And I think when that all happened, you know, I knew that this was really what I wanted to commit my life to doing.
Moira Sutton 9:57
And it is a commitment.
The passion that you have because again, when we were there that day, I know we were looking where there was going to be, I think a hawk, because I love Hawks. And I was I love all animals, but they're, they're my totem. And one of them wasn't there, and you thought they were going to be somewhere else. And then when we got there, that animal was in there. And you were like, a, like a mama, like, you know, passionately, like, where's that animal like concern like, you know, for the baby. So your passion, it's like, they're your children ~ because we saw it in you, and you felt it. And that's what everybody's sees. And then you bring that out into your, your the people that volunteer for your want to help because you are so dedicated and committed and what you're just saying what your job is to do to get to where you are.
Who have been some of the mentors that you've had throughout the years and what's some of the biggest learnings that you took away by having a mentor?
Hope Swinimer 10:51
I strongly believe in picking mentors in your life. And I think they're incredibly important. I remember when I was only about 15 years old, my brother who was living in East Africa at the time, so he was he had gone there to teach school through Cusco and he met up with a lovely lady. Her name was Svetlana, and she was from Russia. And back then it was under communist rule. And you were allowed to just marry a Canadian, but they did. They secretly got married in East Africa. And then immediately, Svetlana was taken back to Russia along with my brother. And they, they kicked my brother out very quickly. And it took about eight months before his wife was allowed to join me here in Canada. But the reason I tell you that story is because she had an amazing impact on me. You're at that age where you know, you're looking for more, you're trying to get answers, you have all kinds of questions, and she waltzed into my life. And she was a very outspoken lady. And she immediately pointed out how much I had and have spoiled I was and, you know, life was so good. How dare I ever complain or, or talk badly, you know, back to my parents. So she just taught me about life and how very fortunate I was, even though we weren't a rich family at all. But she made me appreciate so much what we had. And I think that stayed with me through my whole life. Like, really count your blessings. And she told me about her life in Russia and what it was like and the food lineup, she said, You might stand in line up all day for food, and only to get to the end of the line. And there'll be no meat left for supper. Just little stories and happy stories and sad stories, too. But it may be it may be really connect with a different world that I had never seen before. And I think it was it was great for me. And she she's still in my life today. Oh, yeah. She's a wonderful lady. So she was a true mentor to me.
Moira Sutton 12:54
And where does your brother and your your sister in law? Where do they live now?
Hope Swinimer 12:59
Well, it's funny because the he was a traveler, and I got to see the world through him every time he go to a really cool place, I get to go. So he's lived in Africa. And he's and we've been to Lebanon, safe in New York. We've been everywhere he goes, he's in Brazil right now. So he's a traveler. And it's been great for me to because I've gotten to see a lot of the world because of him. And I had that opportunity to go to unique places through through him.
Moira Sutton 13:26
What kind of parenting did you have that the two of you the way your lives unfolded? Did your parents encourage you to do anything and go for it? That you can be do have anything that you want?
Hope Swinimer 9:58
It sure is!
Absolutely, my mom and dad were truly amazing people. And they grew up very poor. They didn't have a lot. I can remember one day I was probably about six or seven. And they were teasing each other. And I just remember them having this exchange. I said, What are you talking about, and they were both going to write their equivalent to their grade 12. And my mother where she grew up, school only went to grade nine. So she had no choice but to stop school at that point. And my dad went off to war even though he was under age. And he went into the Navy. And so he never had chance to finish and get his grade 12. So they just showed me that at any age, and they both had dreams. And they both follow them and they achieved them. And I got to watch all that. And I think I think that was the best example I could ever have had and I'm very grateful for how strong they were and how they just taught me if you want something, you just got to make it you do the work. You put the time in you make it happen. You follow what you think you need in your life.
Moira Sutton 14:41
I think that's a great message to go for your dreams. And you know, I know when I was growing up, I had two older brothers, I was the baby girl. But they were offered a lot of sports and things and I was told no, you know, lady like girl doesn't do that. And as that my years grew I kind of got annoyed with that like why can I do then it was sort of, and then in the end, I also traveled quite a lot. And I didn't meet my soulmate and husband, who you've met cliff, the love of my life till I was 30. And at that time, I had stopped looking, but I was already into travel and being myself and you get what you you see in front of you, there's no changing happening.
Hope Swinimer 15:23
Exactly. Yeah, you know, what you're getting yourself into, so to say.
Moira Sutton 15:27
Yes. What are the different species that you've helped, like? How many species and because you help all animals, exactly.
Hope Swinimer 15:35
So over the years, we sort of keep track, and we've probably seen over 250, maybe, maybe that's a little bit high, maybe around 235 different species. And, and that's just counting more or less the indigenous wildlife or the wildlife of Nova Scotia. So it's difficult because, you know, when you think of human medicine, doctors learn one species and what makes them tick and what drugs work for them. And in veterinary medicine, usually pick dog or cat or large animals. So again, you know, you have a few more species that you have to learn. But in our wildlife world, you know, something comes in, and sometimes we can't even identify it, where they're looking it up in the books to find out what it is that we're looking at sometime the, the seabirds come in from way off shore, and we might only ever have one of them. And so we're looking them up in the book and learning how to treat them. And the other thing is about my world is Wildlife Rehab work is a new science. And I think people need to stop and realize that people haven't been rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife for very long. So we're learning so every single day, you know, when I started 25 years ago, we didn't know that the drugs you'd need say for pain in a bird is like 10 times the amount that you would use in a dog or cat, we didn't know that when you fix a turtle shell, we were taught to epoxy it together and give them a long term antibiotic and get them back out in the wild really quickly. We didn't know that that was wrong, that it's better to let the shells slowly grow back together. So each and every day, we learn new things, things change, new science, new things are discovered. And so it's a really exciting world to be in because you're constantly learning.
Moira Sutton 17:19
I love that. What has been some of the biggest challenges you've had and the biggest successes?
Hope Swinimer 17:28
Yeah, I think the biggest challenges I mean, some might say, you know, the human con, you know, the human conflicts that you have to deal with can be sad at times that you see every day. But I think I've found a very good place for that I deal with death quite well. Not that you ever want to see death. But you've got to you know, when people ask me, What's your success rate, people like to ask that. And I just say 100%. And I truly believe that because, you know, put it euthanizing a bird, that suffering that need that cannot be restored and go back into the wild is a success. That's what we're here for the hard job as well as the fun job of getting it back out to the wild. So I look at things that way. I look at life that way. And I think the most difficult thing is dealing with the bureaucracy or the government problems. I never dreamed. I never dreamed I'd be held back by government. I always just thought, hey, my, my motives are pure. I'm here for one reason. I want to make the world better. And I want people to understand our natural world better. And I would I just thought I'd get a free ticket from the government that they would say yes, go ahead and do that. Yes, you can try that. Yes, you can. You can harvest turtle eggs and hatch them out and get them back into the wild. Yes, you can do a headstart program. Yes, you can do a captive breeding program. Yes, you can rehab black bears. But guess what? You can't. And I think that's the hardest part of my job is getting permission trying to jump through the hoops that are put out there. And many of them I understand, but some of them I don't. So I think that's that's the hardest part and it takes up a great deal of my time and energy. Do you ever feel overwhelmed? I'm hearing about your time and your energy that you know with the responsibility that you've taken on or is it what you've been saying your excitement that you're just so passionate about every day and you're not sure how it's gonna unfold, but you're, you're really being of service? I? Of course I do. Yes, there's times but I just tell myself, well, you picked it, you can change it if you don't want to be doing it. You can change it I am in control. I have created this. And you know there's ways to back off a little there's ways to expand more. I am in control. So I think with any job anything in life, you have your ups and downs but I always go back to that. You know I can fix this if it too much I can fix it. If it's not enough, I can fix it.
Moira Sutton 20:04
Thank you, let's talk about your your location there. How many acres is that? Because when we walked around, I was amazed at all the different buildings and, and so let's talk about your facilities and you took us into where the surgery is done and all the, you know, upscale equipment, you have to help the animals. So talk a little bit of that in your solar panels. And because it's a large, large property,
Hope Swinimer 20:28
Yes, it really is. And, you know, when I think back to starting off in eastern passage, and just basically my house and one outside unit, and you know, you just continuously every year, you make a little change a little tweak. And before you know it, it's like planting that tree that's only five feet tall, and you suddenly look out your window one day, and it's 40 feet tall. And that's the way hopeful wildlife has grown for me, just as the same as when you walk into a room of 100 hungry mouths to feed and you think there's no way I can feed 100 animals? And you just you don't you just look at that one and you do it. And then you look at that next one, and you do it. And before you know it, you're done. So that's kind of how hoped for wildlife has grown. You know, what's most important, what do we need to get to do next. So we have a beautiful facility, I love it, it's still got a lot of room to grow. When I bought it was only about 10 acres and but since I bought it I've added on I bought another three acres. And then five or six years ago, I bought another five or six acres and, and before you know what I ended up with about 20 acres. So I think it gives me the space I need to to be here forever. And the other good thing is we've we now I've realized that to get these animals the care they need as quickly as possible. I've I'm thinking I've already opened one satellite drop off facility. And that's really just triage. So when an animal comes in, that's five hours away, I now have a drop off center, that's only maybe an hour away. So we have a registered vet veterinary technician that can give first aid stabilization, warm that animal up, rehydrate that animal, give that animal pain meds and make those hard decisions if they need to be made. And then that animal can stabilize overnight and make the rest of the journey to our to our doctor in our hospital the next morning. So the dream as it continues to always grow, we'd be there'd be more stabilization centers. So anyone in Nova Scotia would know that within an hour, they could get an injured wild animal to a facility where it will be treated with respect and caring, and that sort of the goals. So I've got another one on the south shore, I'm hoping to get approved really soon. And be nice to get a few more around the province. So I guess what I'm saying is, the list is long, I could live to be 200. And I still wouldn't get everything done that I want to get done. But that's I've chosen this and it's it's what makes me happy. So I'll just keep working away at it.
Moira Sutton 23:03
No, it's definitely your life purpose. You also give you know, hundreds of offsite presentations to school groups now that we're coming through COVID Things are opening up more, you know, as part of your mission to connect people to wildlife in a positive way you say through knowledge and understanding? How do people reach out to you and ask you to come to the school? And do you have a team that takes certain animals out? What does that look like? It must be very exciting what you see in not only children's eyes, but the people that go listen to your presentations, like, do you see them light up? And oh, I didn't know that like, and, and for children to have that experience? What's that like?
Hope Swinimer 23:45
I know, it really is amazing. And sometimes you have a room of 30 kids? And of course there's adults with them. And sometimes, I mean, they both enjoy it equally, which I think is so satisfying. The adults there have questions so children has, has questions. And sometimes it's just that little, that very simple thing like the the teacher might say, Oh, that child has never interacted before in a presentation. And, you know, he was just full of questions. So it's all those kinds of things that you when you get feedback. And yes, you see, you see a lot of promise. You see, it's fulfilling for me too, because sometimes you can get discouraged with the way human nature treats nature. But when I look at the young people and see their excitement and their caring, and their, their desire to learn and you know, sometimes we'll take a skunk say into the classroom and there's actually children there that don't know what a skunk is anymore. And it just amazes me how disconnected and to be able to to show young people living things that live in our that's our natural history. You know, I just think it's so important and it gets them excited. It helps them to remember we had a group of university students come through that they were doing their masters and it was on And does it make a difference to children when they get to experience hope for wildlife? So they interviewed the kids before they interviewed the kids after the presentation. And then several months later, they chatted with the kids again. And of course, thankfully, they did find that yes, it, it, the children definitely had a better understanding and a better caring for nature. But they found one thing they didn't think they'd find. And that was that the children were more caring towards each other, too, which I thought was pretty amazing. And I suppose if you thought, stop and think about it, you know, we're just another species. So if you're making people more caring about living things, then we should definitely be included in that. So I thought that was pretty nice.
Moira Sutton 25:43
That's really nice to build in that like, and all those others feelings like compassion and empathy, and in acceptance and unity, and all those wonderful things in peace. When I talked about peace, you have the peace pole, which is an internationally recognized symbol of hopes and dreams. When did you find out about that somebody introduced you to that, because I think it's wonderful. We saw it in the languages there and that tells us the experience people have as they walk around your property and the piece pool,
Hope Swinimer 26:21
I know, it's so funny. Some things catch my eye, and I just can't get them out of my brain. So me and my partner, we're in the Amazon, actually. And we were hiking, and we came across this old rickety post, and we had to get really close to even tell what lettering was on it. And we discovered four different languages. We weren't able to identify them all. But we found English and it said, may peace prevail on Earth. And it just stuck in my brain for a very long time I got home and then I, it might have been a month later, I Googled it. And oh, and I felt rather stupid, because there's like, over 100,000 Peace poles around the world. They're all over the place. And they're after the war. And when the bomb was dropped, it was it was created, I think, by the chap by Japan. And it was just to think about to stop and think about peace on earth and may there be peace on earth, so is created as a symbol. And the reason they put all these different languages on it. I you know, just to show we are one world and we are a whole. And so we had when we decided we wanted one. I had all the volunteers pick the languages, and we really cheated. We put eight languages on ours. It was so much fun picking them out. And I see I see people walk by it that have probably never seen a peaceful before. Just the other day were opened, it was Saturday, and a gentleman walked by it. And he went back and they read the signage. And he took off his hat and he bowed his head and I thought, wow, that was so beautiful. You know, so people say what is a peaceful have to do with Wildlife Rehab, but to me it's peace with nature, too. So that's where the Fit comes in.
Oh, that's beautiful. And we're also we are, you know, if we really look at it, we're connected to nature, nature is alive. It's energy. It's it's living our planet and taking care of our planet, animals and each other. So we're all connected.
Hope Swinimer 28:22
Yeah. And we can't live without a healthy ecosystem, the more healthy the planet, the more healthy we'll be. And I think that's what people have to stop and realize just how connected we are.
Moira Sutton 28:32
Yes with that, let's segue into how does climate change affect the animals in their habitat?
Hope Swinimer 28:39
Well, we're definitely seeing the results of climate change already. Just last year alone. Normally, we try and have an open house every year, the last weekend in August. But because of COVID, we haven't been able to have the last couple of years. But I came to the conclusion last year because of climate change, and the change of when the babies are being born and are the whole way we're used to doing Wildlife Rehab that we never could have had the last week of August, because there's still too many babies pouring and we were getting babies in in October, which we've never seen before. So, you know, they you know, what we do is such a good bio indicator of what's happening in our natural world. And it really does you we are the stewards, we are at the forefront of seeing what's going on out there. So whether it's something something medical, we should know about or a zoonotic disease or avian influenza, you know, we tend to see it first and, and we see the cycles, we see what animals are doing really well and we see the dips in the climes of our natural world. So we're definitely seeing a shift in in climate change for sure.
Yes because you also keep all these stats (exactly) that indicate that. You talked about baby season when did it start was that in the spring and now you're saying that sometimes you're seeing it into October which is very strange.
Hope Swinimer 30:01
Yeah, usually it starts the very first of May in Nova Scotia. And it goes right through really busy, incredibly busy right up to the end of July and into the first two weeks of August. But last year was the exception. We were busy right into September and October.
Moira Sutton 30:18
Wow! ~ Endangered species, what species are endangered here in Nova Scotia?
Hope Swinimer 30:26
We have a lot. And I think, you know, a big part of what, what I do is to try and get people to realize, you know, when I'm doing a presentation to children, I'll say name an endangered species, once I'm sure they understand what it is, and the hands will go up, but they'll name the panda and they'll and they'll name animals that are all over the world. But then I say, Okay, start naming me some right here in Nova Scotia. And you know, there's a lot that we need to worry about every single turtle in Nova Scotia is on the at risk list right now. So we have the Wood turtle, we have the Blanding's turtle, we have the Snapping turtle, and we the Eastern painted turtle, and not to mention our Leatherback that's out in the oceans. But we just had our first ever in 25 years Blanding's turtle arrived. And he was badly badly messed up broken from hit by car, which happens a lot this time of year. So just see awareness. And I do see a trend more and more people are calling like maybe 20 years ago, they wouldn't have stopped in and rescued that turtle that was so badly broken by a vehicle. But now they are. And I see that as a very positive thing. I do have a theory, though, that most most people don't share. But I think one of the problems and one of the reasons we get endangered species to begin with, is because we don't look at our environment as a whole. And people will often say hope, why do you rehab everything, why not put all your money, all your energy into just the animals that are in trouble. And I totally disagree with that I wouldn't want to run a facility that way. Because I honestly believe that if we could teach people to care about our, our biosphere, our little mini earth here as a whole and care about all of nature, that we wouldn't see as many endangered species because you know, the environment be so much more healthy with every bit, doing what it needs to do. So I really encourage people to look at nature as the whole, and that it doesn't matter if it's a mouse or a bald eagle, or a fox or what it is. We need to think of it as just keeping our environment healthy, and caring about what's in it. And that's the message.
Moira Sutton 32:43
I love the message - that is the message of my show- about raising the consciousness and the vibration of the planet to heal humanity and Mother Earth. So that's, that's beautiful. Now you did mention about avian, the avian flu. I know that you talked about your two foxes that were stressed out there when we were there. And you talked about how, with the avian flu, it can be transmitted to anything that would eat a bird with this. How do you when an animal comes in? How do you tell that maybe it's affected with that hat? And what's the process of the quarantine that you have and test results before they get back to nature? Can you tell us a bit about that?
Hope Swinimer 33:21
You know, and when we heard news that avian flu had hit this area, we were very proactive. You know, it's same as with COVID Didn't change our lifestyle a lot because we always wear our masks, we always are incredibly careful because we're dealing with zoonotic diseases each and every day. So. So when we heard about avian flu, we did set up a couple of more isolation units, so that if we had an animal in that, like, we know, we knew, for example, that galls ducks, geese. And birds of prey were much more prone to it. So with those, they would go into a special area, they'd be reserved for 24 hours. We were actually the first facility in Nova Scotia, the first people in Nova Scotia to discover it. We had a goose come in, we'd heard about it and Newfoundland. So as soon as it arrived, even before it arrived, the person that went to pick it up was incredibly careful using isolation techniques. And as soon as it arrived, we knew something was terribly wrong. It was exhibiting everything that we've been taught that avian flu looked like. So he that goose immediately went into isolation. It was given medication, but sadly, it died overnight. And we immediately triple bagged it, send it off for testing. And it was the first positive case in Nova Scotia. And we were also the first to pick up the first pot voxpop we'd heard about it happening in other excuse me in other provinces. So when we had one that was presenting with what could have possibly been, you know, as immediately separated and sent off To it didn't it died from it and it tested positive too. So I really think and in Newfoundland, the story is very similar. The first case was picked up by a wildlife rehabilitator. So I really think we we serve a really good purpose in that respect with research. Not only do we educate and rehabilitate, we also offer a great deal of research to to our province.
Moira Sutton 35:24
That's wonderful. I wanted to ask just the stages when they come in and animal goes through when they come in. And this is one case you just shared with me with the avian flu. But the intake process, I read that you, you keep a medical record of each animal, and then we talked about the data. So how does that work? Is it like going into a hospital and they get a card and you weigh them?
Hope Swinimer 35:47
It's really Yeah, it's very similar. We have what's, as soon as you come down the driveway, say it's a member of the general public, there's a big sign that says drop off and they ring a doorbell, and someone comes running. And that animal is brought in, it's once the paperwork is filled out, where did they find it, many animals have to be returned to where they came from, for turtles, for example, and a lot of our owls and that kind of thing, it's really nice to get them back to their family units. So we take all that information, we find out why the animals coming in, the person that dropped it off is given a cage card number, so that they can email and find out how that animal made out. And then they comes in, and that's where the initial exam happens. So the that person doing that job will make a very important decision. At that point, she'll assess the animal, she'll immediately know whether it's just a baby that's really, really healthy. And that should go up into our nurseries, or she'll see one that this is going to need some work. But it's not worrisome at this point, let set send that up to ICU where they can get it warmed up, start rehydrating it, and the doctor can look at it in the morning. Or the third case scenario where this animal is in danger. You know, it's it may die any moment, we need to rush it over to our doctor at the veterinary hospital. And that's sort of the flow. And it's a very important job as you can imagine, as all the jobs are. And then everybody has an area of expertise here at home for wildlife. And everybody gravitates to particular type species. So we have experts in in seal pups. And we have experts in the white tailed deer and the birds of prey. And some people love the songbirds. Some people love the squirrels. So it's really nice to have people that care about each individual species as they come through.
Moira Sutton 37:39
It's wonderful, in regard to taking an animal returning them back to when you release them back into the wild, taking them back to that location. Why is that so important?
Hope Swinimer 37:48
Some species, it's not as important as others. Some people think we do it for Disease Control, which in a way is that is important. But I have to say, it's, you know, when the animals go to leave here, we know they're disease free, or they wouldn't have made it through the rehab process. But it's important, like a Barbie doll, for example, they have really closely tight knit family units. So getting it back to its home turf is very important. Say we had a great blue heron, we might not be as fussy about getting that back because it's more migratory. So sometimes we're actually figuring out how long it would take to drive the bird back to how quickly that bird could fly home. And sometimes the stress of the drive outweighs our judgment to to, to just let it go here at the farm and let let that bird figure out its own path to home. So you know, there's no cut and dry answers. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions, like we had a great horned owl in that was had an eye injury. So we had to remove that eye. And you know, they say with ALS, they do very well with just one eye. And that they depend so much on their hearing that they they they can go on and survive and live long lives. So we had a great horned owl in that we ended up amputated taking the eye out. And you know we live prey tests these animals we flight test them. We know that they breed early in the year. So you know you're faced with hard decisions to get this owl out in the winter. So they can find a mate and you know, can you get them back to their home turf. So life will be a lot easier back in their home turf. So, so every day there's challenging questions and you know, you make the decisions you think are the most appropriate. And there's no book that you can open up to know what the right or wrong answer is each and every time.
Moira Sutton 39:41
I'm sure it would be great for you to write a book with all your knowledge, you know, 25 years.
Hope Swinimer 39:51
It's on my list. Yeah,
It's on your list - schedule that one in right. Now right now all the baby ducks are right by our property and they seem to be okay coming closer to people. I haven't been out there yet to experience this, Cliff has and our neighbors. Where they come, jump up from the shore and they walk right by you. You know, I'm taken aback at the time, thinking, how are they so trusting of humans?
Hope Swinimer 40:15
I know I see it a lot, too. And it's funny because sometimes people say, Did you release a raccoon in my area, because I got a really friendly one on my desk. I reassure them that it's not our raccoon it, you know, probably someone's feeding it. And it does give them a false sense of security. And they do come around people more often. I also think our province has something to do with it too, because we're not a very big province, we don't have as much forest is we need some time to sustain all the different species we have. So I always say the wildlife that is more adaptable, those living in the city or the towns are not being as nervous around humans, is probably the wildlife that's going to survive and thrive here in Nova Scotia. So I think it's important to keep that in mind. You know, we have all the provinces next to Pei, we have the most people per square, you know, per square kilometer, because we're small province. So we probably have to be a little more tolerant than perhaps a province like, like New Brunswick that has lots of forest area and Ontario, that have big vast spaces of forests, you know. So that's my theory. Anyway, I just think I think our wildlife is more used to seeing people around we have roads, every two kilometers, I think, you know, there's hardly anything that isn't fragmented, and, and divided. So I think we have a very hard job to keep our wildlife healthy and strong.
I know that when we talked, and it's not so much now we're hearing about down at the mailbox that had you know, seen Bear Bear in the neighborhood. And I think I said to what do you really do if you come? You know, I've never been close to a bear before. It's kind of scary to me really the idea but, you know, when they're coming out like they are going into the garbage for food, but what do people do if you come face with especially a mama there?
Hope Swinimer 42:14
It is so interesting. And I think sometimes people get confused between a black bear and a grizzly bear. And so in Nova Scotia, we just have the black bear. And they're, they're a pretty easy going animal. I mean, people don't even understand what they eat probably 90% or more of their diet is just grasses and fruits and berries, and they eat little mice, they you know, that's that's their diet, hard to believe such a big animal can survive on that kind of a diet. But if you aren't careful with your garbage, you are going to attract them, they have an amazing sense of smell. And they can come from a long way for food. So people do need to be careful and cautious for sure. Making a lot of noise if they're coming around your property, making sure your garbage is totally picked up. And I know it's a pain and difficult sometime because you might just put things outside, people say if you have a bear problem, you should probably put your your food garbage in the freezer till garbage day, just so the smell isn't there. And that helps keep the bears at bay. If you're in the middle of the woods and you come across one, you know, stop. And a trick when you're in the woods is make a bit of noise, you know, maybe have a radio on maybe chat with somebody, don't travel alone, take a walking stick, take some bear spray, but don't startle the bear. So let them know you're in the area so that he can do what he wants to do. And that's run away. If you come across one and startle it, it may have a different reaction. So you need to make yourself look as big as possible and slowly back up. So wave your arms, make yourself large and slowly back away. Usually, most wild animals do not want a confrontation unless they're just reacting out of total fear and total surprise. So let him know you're there backing up quickly or slowly, not quickly. Don't run, just don't you know, keep your eyes on him and backup and make some noise and wave your arms is often a good way to go. I always recommend carrying a whistle when you're in the woods, anything at all.
Moira Sutton 44:23
Or a bell or something.
Hope Swinimer 44:25
Moira Sutton 44:27
How can people help and support hope for wildlife? What are the ways that they can help support you and also support other areas where they might be living because people hear this podcast from all over the world?
Hope Swinimer 44:37
Yeah, I think you know, every every community almost everywhere in the world now has wildlife rehabilitators. So I think it's really important. We get the word out that we exist. I think every wildlife rehabber out there would very much like to be involved in the community and they want help. manpower is One of the things you know, we're always looking for help we were there's so much you can do doesn't matter if you're 16 or 90, you know, any age, we have every age here at Hope for wildlife. So number one, we need your help, we need your support physically, if you want to come to the farmers, you want to work in an office, if you want to help with phones, there's just any interest you have, we can we can fulfill whatever desire you have as a volunteer. So that's really important to us the support. And you know, there's the financial needs are great. We have big open houses, we're often looking for items to auction off to raise money. It's difficult, people don't realize that most wildlife rehabs are not government funded, in any way. So we exist totally on donations and, and writing grants and, you know, trying to get interns to come work and for the experience. So there's there's a lot of opportunity, and it does, and also helping out with government, you know, trying to get old policies changed, to help embrace nature better, like trying to be there for when change needs to happen, trying to get the support of the people when change needs to happen.
Moira Sutton 46:15
Is that something that you have on your site where people can like start writing and get more names behind the cause?
Hope Swinimer 46:23
I know, yes, I know, when we were trying to get permission to rehabilitate black bears here in Nova Scotia, there was a big petition started, which really helped a lot to it hasn't happened yet, but we're still hopeful that it can happen. So usually, we do that kind of thing through our Facebook page. So people joining our Facebook page, really get to see a lot of what's going on, where the problems are a lot of education things on there, just to keep you. You know, I wish there was a way that everybody knew everybody knew in the world that do not trap out an animal do not live trap it, it's not humane method, you're probably orphaning babies are taking that animal and putting it into another territory, where it doesn't have a home or where there might be others that that same species living. So you know, it's better to find ways to live with nature, or repel them from your doorstep if you don't want them there. And there are tricks that you can do humanely that will just push the wildlife back just a little. And so that you can coexist with it quite well.
I love that we're going to be putting the links below this. Our heartfelt conversation,Hope for how people can reach "Hope for Wildlife", but also definitely that Facebook page so people can start interacting and seeing your posts and getting involved with the conversation.
Hope Swinimer 47:44
Awesome. Thank you.
Moira Sutton 47:46
Yeah, you're welcome. So we talked about envisioning for the future. And I know you said you could be to 100 and there will be lots to do. What what do you really see in the next, you know, five to 10 years? I know we could go longer, but...
Hope Swinimer 47:57
I know, yeah, I get excited. Like, I still get excited about every single day here. And I would love to see like a turtle Trauma Center we do right now we have over 20 hit by car turtles here that we're treating. And I know those numbers will probably be up to 60 by the end of the summer. So a turtle Trauma Center. So I would need to build something really nice to make that work even better. I'd love to do captive breeding programs. I'd love to be able to do Headstart programs, I'd love to do more work on the education aspects. I'd love to create an even better experience when you come and visit us like I I just think, you know, if people go away feeling a connection with nature, that's really all I'm after. Sure, if they learned something along the way, that's great, too. But at least if they go and feel like they've been reconnected in some way, I think that's the goal. So there's so many things in the education world I want to do. There's so many areas to do better rehab that I want to get involved in the research alone. I'd love to have a place where we could do necropsies for everything that passes away that we don't know why it passed away. What better way to learn to help nature then find out what's causing death in nature. So that the science of that would be really interesting to me. So there's just so many things, such a huge list, but I'll pick away at it.
Moira Sutton 49:23
That is so exciting. And I see you doing very much a lot of that. I want to really encourage our listeners today to like Hope said in you know, there's rehab centers around the world to to get involved to give back to do whatever in those cases that you said how you can help and be an intern and just volunteer and give back. Hope you're such a beautiful person. You totally are a heart based person. And this show is about Heart Soul Wisdom. And I just want to thank you so much for sharing from your Heart and Soul, your Wisdom on Hope for Wildlife: Because they Matter.
Hope Swinimer 50:05
Thank you so much and thanks for taking the time to come visit really, really meant a lot to me.
Moira Sutton 50:11
Thank you so much.
Thank you for listening to the Heart Soul Wisdom podcast with Moira Sutton. I hope you enjoyed today's episode, please join our community at Moira sutton.com and continue the discussion on our Facebook page Create the Life you Love1. You will be part of a global movement connecting with other heart centered people who are consciously creating the life they love on their own terms. Together we can raise our consciousness for the greater good of humanity and for our planet.