Wildlife Matters…with Dell Cullum

Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton, Inc.:

Dell Cullum

Well, the summer is over my friends and it’s certainly nice to have things slow down a bit. I hope everyone had an enjoyable season. It was sure busy for the wildlife rescue and rehab folks; another record year. As more and more land is cleared for building, less and less habitat is available for our wildlife. Ironically and sadly, many wildlife species lose their homes… when houses are built for people. When this happens, the wildlife doesn’t just walk next door and find a new home, as many still have to prepare a new nest or vacant area before they can settle. This could take some time in most cases and it certainly burdens the animal. It also leaves them vulnerable to dangers when their homes are destroyed and they are left to search for another safe location. Not much we can do for the wildlife against progress and growth, but we can be there to help them when it becomes necessary.

The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue & Rehab Center has been here helping our wildlife for quite sometime. The folks at EVWRR has been a shining star to our wildlife, and their work is nothing short of amazing; however, each year I see a very noticeable increase of the amount of animals that go through the center. Located in Hampton Bays, it was very difficult for me to find the time to help them as much as I had wanted to. My wife Dee volunteered for a short time several years ago, but the commute was too much when combined with her regular job. We both decided to get our NYS Rehabilitators License and do some in-house wildlife rehab instead. I had been doing wildlife rescue for many years in a few other states and decided to take on the task of doing it again here, when I wasn’t doing my normal job of nuisance wildlife removal. Next thing I know, I’m doing more and more rescues each year, and finding less and less time for my removal business.

A couple years ago I was approached by one of my celebrity customers and advised to perhaps start a nonprofit to help organize the wildlife rescue folks in Montauk / East Hampton, which was a difficult traveling distance to Evelyn Alexander and their volunteers as well. I wasn’t prepared to do that, but I did raise money to hire a web & mobile app designer to create a unique tool in wildlife rescue, a volunteer dispatch app. Now, when a wildlife emergency call came in, I could dispatch the call to as many volunteers as I could get signed up, freeing me up a bit from constant responding. We signed up 50 volunteers within the first couple weeks and the pressure began to subside.

Because of the unique situation, where your helping an animal that is scared beyond measure, is in pain or distress and cannot communicate, and in most cases is dying or suffering, the consistency of this work can be quite taxing both physically and mentally. It’s not for everyone. We are extremely fortunate to have right here on the eastern end of Long Island DOZENS of amazing wildlife warriors, again due to the fine work of EAWRR and their traveling training programs. Still my friends, volunteers have to make a living as well, and many of them have jobs that don’t allow them availability should a wildlife emergency occur. I myself had to focus more on work to survive, and every now and then I would simply not be able to respond. Something that weighed terribly on my conscience.

This past spring / summer season was much like the last. Busy crowds, cars and trucks flying down the roads, new houses popping up everywhere. The wildlife was definitely on the move. EAWRR was over crowded with rehab critters, I had all I could handle and all resources peaked out. The only difference was, the wildlife had less space than last year. I thought long and hard about the burden to our wildlife and how I could help more. That’s when I decided to drop the hammer on a project I’ve been sitting on for far too long. After speaking with a number of my wildlife colleagues in every field, local and nationally, and then getting the good wishes from the folks at EAWRR, I filed for a nonprofit 501(c)(3) incorporation called Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton.

Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton, Inc. is a dedicated 24/7/365 Wildlife Rescue Response and Transport Team that will be available to respond to all wildlife emergencies from Montauk to Wainscott (East Hampton Town). Their mission, to “Never Leave an Animal to Suffer or Without Help”. WROEH also offers a 24/7 Wildlife Information, Advice, Identification & Referral Service center easily accessed by calling toll free 844-SAV-WILD that’s 844-728-9453. You can also reach us by visiting www.WROEH.org.

One dedicated shift leader will take and respond to all calls during that shift. They will also dispatch for assistance using the wildlife rescue mobile app already functioning and in use. The responders duty is to locate, rescue, release or transport. Transport would be to either a local vet, EAWRR, Riverhead Animal Hospital, or one of our three temporary / overnight holding facilities (until transport can be completed to medical facility). Then, if the animal is cleared and needs to be transferred to rehab, the shift leader will do or designate that task as well. The best part is, there will be multiple shift leaders assigned to days or weeks so, NOBODY gets burnt out or compassion fatigue and each active responder remains sharp, focused and safe at every call.

That’s not all. Besides offering training and compensation for volunteer assistance in wildlife rescues, I’ll be doing a lot more educational work with my screech owl Athena at the schools, and presenting at other forums and events. I also hope to produce another wildlife series on our local LTV East Hampton station that revolves around the work of our newly formed, yet much needed Wildlife Rescue organization. We have some wonderful fundraising events planned as well.

The toll free phone service is already up and running, and your all welcome to call for any wildlife related issue from reporting a deer hit by a vehicle, raccoon trapped in a garbage container, finding a stranded seal or sea turtle or even to report a swarm of honey bees. Call 844-SAV-WILD and we’ll direct you to the TOP person or company in that field with our 100% recommendation. Calling from outside the East Hampton area? That’s okay, we’ll direct you to the right place as well. So cut this column out and tape it to your refrigerator.

Just call 844-SAV-WILD, THEN:

Dial 0  to report a wildlife emergency
Dial 1  to report an injured or stranded seal or sea turtle
(Marine Mammal – New York Marine Rescue Center)
Dial 2  Wildlife Information, Identification, Advice, etc.
Dial 3  Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue & Rehab Center
Dial 4  Hampton Wildlife Removal / Dead Animal Removal
Dial 5  Recommendations (Honey Bee Removal, Pest Control,
Deer/Tick/Mosquito Control)
(all companies are safe, organic choice, poison &  rodenticide free and just awesome folks.)
General Mailbox – Book for Presentations and School Visits,
Donation Information and Fund-raising events, etc.

This is a 24/7/365 operation. The rescue responders, web site and full program is presently in operation. We will cover wildlife from Wainscott to Montauk Point (including East Hampton side of Sag Harbor). Folks interested in joining the WROEH Volunteers and gaining access to the Wildlife Rescue Mobile Alert App, getting trained or making a donation to the nonprofit 501(c)(3), please visit www.WROEH.org or email me at Kachina35@gmail.com. Thanks everyone. See you next month. Remember, Wildlife Matters.

        ~Dell Cullum

Hampton Wildlife Removal & Rescue 631-377-6555
Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton, Inc. 844-SAV-WILD (844-728-9453)
Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue & Rehab Center 631-728-WILD