Changes Coming to WILDSIDE

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WILDSIDE Rehabilitation and Education Center has been rehabilitating native MI wildlife for 28 years. We have been through some changes, but none as big as this change that we are making starting March 1, 2023. WILDSIDE will no longer be rehabilitating opossums, squirrels, woodchucks.

We WILL be accepting cottontail rabbits, raptors (eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures, osprey), cranes, herons, crows, turkeys, some adult injured waterfowl, turtles, beaver, bobcats, badgers. Please call us if you are not sure if we can help!

We are running out of space, never have enough volunteers and donations never covers all of our expenses. Louise still works full time to help cover expenses which means, as the director, she is off site 5 days per week for 9 months while she is teaching.

This has been a very hard decision, however, it needed to be made. If you have an animal needing help please call us for a referral to another rehabilitator or look up rehabilitators in your area on the DNR website:

Some exciting news is that we are hoping to gain funds to purchase some new equipment that will help us save money in the long run. A portable x-ray machine and an anesthesia machine/oxygen concentrator . Currenlty, we pay over $130.00 for one xray. With a portable xray machine we will be able to determine outcomes for animals more quickly and with less overhead. The anesthesia machine with oxygen concentrator will allow our veterniarian to do some surgeries at WILDSIDE instead of charging us hospital costs.

Pictured: Journey’s Passage which will be the same design for Blizzard Express.

We are also fundraising for a senior community project by Eagle Scout Gabe, called Blizzard Express. He has cleared 1/2 acre of property to build a new flight enclosure for large raptors including Snowy Owls, Peregrines, Great Horned Owls, Red tailed Hawks and Osprey. The current 120 foot Journey’s Passage usually has eagles residing in it so another flight enclosure is needed. The new enclosure will also house an education center so we can finally conduct educational programs onsite.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email Louise at for more information.

If you would like to donate to any of these projects,  please do so on our website: , Facebook,  Paypal, Venmo, CashApp or send a check to us at WILDSIDE, 8601 Houston Rd, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

(Venmo: @wildsiderehab   Paypal: @wildsidemi   Cash app: $wildsiderehab)

ALL donations are tax deductible!

WILDSIDE: Heading into Winter 2022

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We were blessed with volunteers and interns this spring, summer and fall to help us raise and rehabilitate the hundreds of wild animals that came to Wildside for help. Some of the unusual visitors included 3 baby bobcats, green herons, soft shelled turtles , Broadwing Hawks, Sharp shinned Hawks and a young beaver named Walnut. Our more common visitors included cottontail rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, many species of raptors, opossums, cranes and herons. We have been fortunate to work with many rehabilitators throughout the state. We are always in need of more volunteers and funding. Please consider donating to Wildside this holiday season. If you are intersted in volunteering, please send an email to Louise at

Spring Babies 2022

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As we begin yet another spring at Wildside, it is important to remember about all of the baby animals you may come into contact with that may or may not need your help!  Some general recommendations are below, but see Wildlife Emergencies for more information!

  • Call WILDSIDE for assistance at 517-663-6153.
  • Use a heating pad on low under the box you have contained the mammal in.
  • You can pour rice into a sock and tie off the sock. Heat that in the microwave for a minute and a half.
  • You can put hot water into a soda pop or water bottle in a sock. CHECK often as the water cools quickly.  Most mammal’s body temperatures are warmer than ours.
  • It is important that the baby be able to move away from the heat source.
  • For smaller mammal species, a secure box small or a smaller cat carrier will do.
  • For larger mammal species, use a larger box or pet carrier with t-shirts on the bottom. Put air holes in the box before you put the baby inside.
  • Place the container in a room away from all household activity (pets, children, etc.).
  • Prevent the possible transmission of parasites or disease by not letting children handle wild animals or letting them near pets.
  • Do not forget to continue to provide supplemental heat during transport to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Do not try to feed any animal you find.  There are special formulas made specifically for wild animals.  Human baby milk, or cow’s milk can kill a wild animal.

For injured animals, a box or carrier in a quiet place is best until the animal can be transported to WILDSIDE.  

Please remember the following as we head into spring:


DO provide supplemental warmth as explained.

Call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator: WILDSIDE Rehabilitation Center,  517-663-6153, Eaton Rapids.

Wildlife parents DO NOT abandon babies that have been handled by humans.   They just lick off our scent.

Transport all orphaned, injured or ill mammals to a rehabilitator as soon as possible. If you need a rehabilitator in another area, please check out the DNR Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators List at:

Covid-19 and WILDSIDE

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I know that everyone has had a lot of news about this crisis we are facing, so just a few words from me.

WILDSIDE is open and we are accepting animals during this pandemic.  We have specific guidelines when arriving at WILDSIDE, so please, as always, call us first….517-663-6153.

We have greatly limited the numbers of volunteers so we are all working longer hours.

Our donations have SIGNIFICANTLY decreased and we depend on you to help us keep our doors open.  We do not receive any state or federal funding and we are all volunteers, no paid staff.  We accept PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, and Facebook donations, as well as having a donation button right on our WordPress site!  (Below are all the ways to help us)!

Our Go Fund Me for our Eagle Enclosure is still open and we have received other monies to help us built the enclosure, named “Journey’s Passage”  after a Bald Eagle that  was admitted with severe injuries and did not make it to be released.  Below is the enclosure site with the anchors in the ground.

We hope everyone stays well.  Enjoy some of our pictures!




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Eagle Update

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Our eagles, Pride and Justice,  have been in our 24 foot flight cage for a few months.  They need to move to a larger flight cage so that they will be ready for a spring release!  Our friends at Howell Nature Center are willing to take the 2 eagles to fly in their large flight cage.  They will return to us for release.

We have been doing well in our fundraising efforts, securing 2 grants, one from R.E. Olds Foundation and one from Dart Foundation, as well as a large donation from a wonderful person!  We have the builder that we want to use and he has priced out his materials and labor at $46,500.  We have this money and are ready to start, however, this price does not include the boards to finish the outside, the chainlink fence and landscape screen that prevents animals from digging up under the cage, the pea stone, the screws and the rat wall on the outside.  We need  the specific donated items, as listed above, or funds equaling another $15,000 to finish the cage  We need all the help we can get to have this finished this spring/summer.

Any fundraising events would be great to help us raise this money and donations are always greatly appreciated!

What’s Happening with the Eagles?

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Mission (aka Bobbi), Pride and Justice are still healing at Wildside.

Mission remains on medication and still struggles with neurological issues.  We are still hopeful that with continued medication she will heal further.

Pride, the adult who was in a trap is healing great!  Her leg and back wound are about quarter size and healing continues.  We will debride the wounds again soon to help promote further healing.  Thanks to Dr. Hinkle for coming to Wildside to debride her wounds a few weeks ago!

Justice is almost ready to find a permanent home!  We will be sad when she goes but we know that her life will be fulfilled with enrichment and time with her handlers.

We desperately need your help in fundraising for our Eagle Flight Enclosure.

YOU will make the difference for these amazing birds!

YOU will be the reason they remain at Wildside for their rehabilitation through release.

Won’t YOU help?


Send a check to Wildside Rehab and Education Center, 8601 Houston Rd, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

Use the DONATE button on the top right of this page and donate to our eagle flight enclosure.

Go to our Go Fund Me page for the eagle enclosure at:Eagle Enclosure

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You can now purchase items for WILDSIDE on our Amazon Charity list:
Amazon Smile-support Wildside Rehabilitation and Education Center:



Bald Eagles Arrive at WILDSIDE

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What was once an unusual visitor at Wildside Rehab and Education Center has now become more common.  We have recently admitted 3 Bald Eagles into rehab for a variety of reasons.

Justice, a banded 26 year old female, was found severely injured in Sanilac county around the 4th of July.  She is recovering well after 2 surgeries.

Freedom, the 2nd eagle, an 8 year old female, also banded,  came from Eaton Rapids and was admitted after being hit by a car and continues to struggle with a spinal cord injury causing her to not be able to stand or walk well.

The third eagle admitted a few days ago was rescued by Eaton County Animal Control and has an infection in her mouth, but luckily, no other injuries and no lead poisoning.

We have received great generosity from the community and surrounding areas for help with feeding the eagles, who eat a lot of fish.

We are in need financial support to build a large, 100 foot  flight cage so that the eagles can remain here for the rest of the rehabilitation time. Otherwise, we need to transfer them to a different location.

WILDSIDE is a 501c3 and staffed entirely by volunteers.  We receive no state or federal funding.  You can donate from this site, on Facebook or by sending a check to WILDSIDE, 8601 Houston Rd, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827, or on paypal at Wildside Rehab Center

We will be starting a Go Fund Me also soon to assist with the fundraising efforts.

Featured Animal: Loco, The Eastern Gray Squirrel

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Loco is an Eastern Gray Squirrel that came to Wildside in November of 2018.  He was brought in by a family that had found him as a baby and tried to make him a pet.  Obviously, because Loco is at Wildside, that was not a great idea. He began to get a bit out of control for them, which can happen with wild animals.  Loco was just being his normal self! Thank goodness this family brought him in. It was too cold outside to release him in the wild so he has residence in large cage where he can run around in his crazy way…this is how he got his name!  Loco will be released near Wildside when the weather is warm enough for him to survive. He will have plenty of squirrels to hang out with in the area. 

animal blur chipmunk close up

Photo by Joseph Yu on

Now, here is a bit of information about Loco’s breed:

Eastern Gray Squirrels reside all over Michigan.  They come in a variety of shades, gray to black. Eastern grays eat nuts, seeds, buds, and flowers of trees. Like other tree squirrels, the eastern gray plays an important role in seed dispersal.  Have you ever seen a squirrel burying things in your yard? They are burying seeds and nuts when winter approaches.  They bury more than they can eat.  The remaining seeds/nuts will sprout and grow when spring arrives.

Eastern grays have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to help locate food that they’ve hidden away. They can also pick up information about other squirrels by smelling them.  Or in Loco’s case, humans!

Have you ever seen a squirrel flicking its tail or chattering?  This is the way they communicate with each other. They have one sound that alerts other squirrels if a predator, like a red fox or red-tailed hawk, is near.

Ever wonder what those balls of leaves are up high in a tree?  That is the nest or den for this squirrel for raising their young.  It is made up of leaves and twigs. The eastern gray can also use cavities in trees to make their home.

Females can begin to have kits as young as 5 ½ months.  They usually have 1 to 2 litters a year that each consist of 2 to 4 babies.  The babies are born blind and hairless! They may weigh as little as one half of an ounce!  When they are 10 to 12 weeks old, they will begin to leave the nest. They are full grown at 9 months.  


Baby Eastern Gray Squirrel drinking formula from a syringe.

(Information from National Geographic Kids)

2018 Update and Ways to Help

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I wanted to update everyone on the numbers from 2018….we admitted 1623 animals into rehab, more than any year previously. We  had over 9100 hours of volunteer service, also more than any other year.  We are a non profit 501(c)3 and have no outside funding sources.  We rely on donations to buy food, formulas,  medical supplies/medication, provide veterinary care and build enclosures.  When our animal count rises, so do our costs.  Last year, our electric bill alone was over $9000 for the year, our veterinary bill was over $2000.  The cost of filter sand replacement for the beaver habitat is over $2400 for the year.  We recently had the pump house, which houses the beaver habitat filters, insulated to help keep the cost of heating it down.    We are trying to keep our costs down by replacing older fluorescent lighting fixtures with new LED fixtures.  We are considering some solar options but the initial cost is high.  

I wanted to let our donors know that we appreciate their continued support and to please spread the word about the work that WILDSIDE does.

Ways to Help:

Become a volunteer!  See the volunteer page for more information.

Donate!  Monetary donations help us the most.  then we can target the money for the immediate needs.

Make donations from our wish list (see our wish list on that page)

When you shop on Amazon, go to Smile.Amazon and designate WILDSIDE as your charity.  

You can now purchase items for WILDSIDE on our Amazon Charity list:

Go to iGive to make purchases from hundreds of stores and a percentage goes to WILDSIDE.  Go to iGive at:

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“Toons”, the (un)Common Loon

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Each year, we admit  birds or mammals that are uncommon species at Wildside.  This year has been no exception.  We had the privilege of raising a baby Common Loon!  She was found in Lakeview, MI.  Her parents were not caring for her,  she washed up on shore and was rescued by a kind couple who were vacationing there from another state.  We were able to meet them in Ionia to pick up the baby loon.


We had never had a baby loon, only adults that were grounded because of weather or mistook shiny pavement for water and landed and then could not take off again (Loons need 90 ft of open water to take off from to fly, they cannot take off from the ground.)

Toons, as she became known, was immediately loved by all.  She readily ate small fish in the tub and soon moved to a pool in the yard.  She began to loose her fluff and get real feathers…her appetite also grew!

img_1704-1.jpg                           IMG_1750Once she was older and had feathers, we decided the beaver habitat pond would be a great place for her during the day while the beavers were sleeping.  This worked great, until one day the beavers decided to wake up early and take a swim!  Toons swam, dove and made a lot of noise, but once she settled down, she realized that she could inhabit the pond with the beavers!


We knew release needed to come soon for Toons and although we would be sad to see her go that was why we raised her (or so we thought)!

Release day:

Lakeview, where Toons had been born was chosen as her release site.  Mom, dad and I spent 2 hours driving to find the site.  Once there, we met a couple that was taking their boat out on the lake to go fishing.  We told them about what we were doing and I gave them my business card (thank goodness)!  Toons was set free on the lake.  Even though the breeze was cold that day, we stayed and watched her for over an hour to be sure she would be ok.  We left to eat lunch and then returned to find her out by lily pads, where fish like to hide, and we felt comfortable to then leave her.IMG_1974

I thought about her daily and desperately wanted to check on her, but the 2 hour drive was making that impossible.  Then, the phone call came 5 days after her release.  She had been following a couple who was fishing and had eaten a fish with a hook in it.  I was devastated, afraid we had lost her for sure.  After talking with the woman on the phone, she and her husband, who had caught her but released her, were willing to go back out to see if they could catch Toons again.  The long 30 minutes of waiting began.  Even though we had no idea if they would be successful, we headed out, driving toward Lakeview.  The call came and they had her!  We met them in Sheridan, just north of Ionia.  The whole time believing this was the same couple I had given my business card to 5 days earlier.  Once we met at the gas station, I realized that it was not the couple I thought it was.  The couple I had given my card to had been fishing the same time as the husband and wife that had found Toons following them.  It was a twist of fate that it all fell into place to allow Toons to come back into our care.

IMG_E2032 (1)

The next big dilemma was the hook she had swallowed.  The x-ray clearly showed the hook and we were hoping she would pass it…which she eventually did.  She has not left us since and we now realize she is too friendly to release back into the wild.

Toons will have a permanent home at Tracy Aviary in Utah.  She will be flown (yes, on a plane) to Salt Lake City, Utah soon.  We will miss her gentleness and her antics in the pond; diving, flapping and eating fish…among the beavers!img_2195.jpg img_1872-e1541556080548.jpg

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