As a transport volunteer with WildNorth, I take on the responsibility of transporting injured wildlife to WildNorth’s hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. This story reveals how one such transport almost became a disaster.
WildNorth received a call that a small bat had an injured wing. The rescuers were from Fairview area – about five hours from my home in Northern Alberta.
Our WildNorth dispatcher had a big challenge lining up a convoy of three transport volunteers to transport this wee thing with a broken wing. One person drove from north of Fairview and met up with another person near Grande Prairie. I met up with her at Little Smoky (north of Fox Creek). This patient had the devoted attention of at least three people, plus the original rescuer.
Once this bat was transferred to my vehicle, I headed back to WildNorth in Edmonton. During this long and lonely drive, I decided this amazing creature needed a name – “Geronimo” (must have a grand name to have been chauffeured hundreds of miles). I arrived back in my area too late to deliver Geronimo to WildNorth’s hospital (closed for admissions over night).
So, Gerry, (we’re on a first name basis by now) is camped out in my home office. I peeked and found him happily hanging from the lid of his shoe box (which is secured inside my dog’s crate). He spent a lot of time doing his best to escape, scratching in his prison.
The next morning I prepared to deliver him to WildNorth’s hospital. I carried the dog crate containing the shoe box to my SUV and noticed Geronimo was very quiet. Too quiet.
Placing the crate in the back of my SUV, I opened the crate’s door and tentatively lifted the shoe box lid. Pop! Out came Geronimo, very much alive and ticked. I slipped on heavy duty gloves. By this time he had scaled down the side of the box. Perhaps he did have a broken wing as he made no attempt to fly. In a few seconds I had been able to maneuver him back into the shoe box.
Or so I thought. It was dark in my garage.
With a great sigh of relief, I started up my SUV and headed to WildNorth located in Edmonton, about a 20 minute drive. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the hospital and flying down the Yellowhead Trail freeway I got the shock of my life.
Geronimo was crawling across my lap!
How I managed to keep from going hysterical, I don’t know. In part I was worried Geronimo might get his revenge and nip my leg. I’m not yet vaccinated for Rabies. But I was more worried he was going to get more injured. Traveling about 50 mph, and no close exit or shoulders off the freeway, I had no choice but to pull over to the far right lane and stop, four way flashers activated.
By the time I got stopped, Geronimo was scaling up my arm. Apparently he likes black leather jackets. The only thing I could use as a container in the front seats was a small paper bag from A&W. I flipped it upside down. Geronimo is now cuddled against my throat and hanging on to my coat’s collar. Carefully I lowered the bag over the wee bat and pinched the bag closed hoping my escapee was again trapped.
Nope! He vanished.
How do you sit perfectly still so as to not cause an angry bat to bite you, and yet find him. Is he in my hair, on my back, crawling around to the other side of my neck? Do you reach around and pat lightly hoping to not get bitten or just freeze until he reveals his hiding spot. Traffic was piling up behind me and the honking had started.
There was only one way out of my predicament. Gingerly, I put my SUV back in gear and proceeded to the wildlife hospital, just another few miles further down the freeway. At the hospital parking lot I again scanned the area around me. No Geronimo. Seeing that he wasn’t near the door, I opened it, eased out of my seat, carefully closed the door, and dashed into the hospital.
I made my confession to Dale, the rescue manager. This wonderful man is the kindest person. He managed to calm me down and gathered up some helpers. Out in the parking lot Dale, Kim, and Kristy and I hunted for Geronimo.
We virtually tore apart my SUV’s interior. No Geronimo. Never in my life have I felt so terrible at having caused trauma to an animal. The consensus was that either he found a way out of the vehicle, or he’s a pro at hiding. Nothing left to do but return home.
On my way home, I received a call from Lorraine (from Grande Prairie). She wanted to know how Geronimo was doing. I made the confession to her. She was sad but told me to not give up hope. Per her instructions I went to Spruce Grove’s Petsmart and bought a couple of small containers of meal-worms. I placed them on the floor in front of the passenger seat and headed home, only another five minutes.
Still feeling really sad and beating myself up over my stupidity, I began to plan a possible trap. Set out the food on the seat. It would require that I camp in the truck, perhaps for hours and risk a lethal confrontation with Geronimo. Whatever it takes, I thought.
Glad to be home, I began backing into the garage. It’s a tight fit so I was glancing at my right side door mirror making sure I had enough room to back through the doorway. Then I spotted him.
Guess who was making a beeline across the front passenger seat toward the meal-worms.
i was ready for him this time. In seconds I had him secured in a shoe box with the lid taped down. Geronimo is now enjoying the attention of several interns at WildNorth’s hospital.
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