Last year, National Volunteer Appreciation Week looked unlike any year prior. The SPCA Serving Erie County chose to continue serving the community as effectively as possible while the county…and the world…continued navigating a worldwide pandemic. Our volunteers stood by, ready and willing to help us continue to serve the people and animals of our community in whatever way possible. This year during National Volunteer Appreciation Week, as we continue to rebuild and restructure, we take a look back at last year’s efforts and again thank our volunteers for their dedication, their loyalty, their smiles, and most of all, for their love.

Day 5, April 22 [Reposted April 21, 2022]

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”    – Plato

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Today’s appreciation post comes to us from Director of Wildlife Barbara Haney:

Last year, when COVID hit just before our busiest time of year in Wildlife, we immediately had to pause our 150 volunteers because, like everyone else in the world, we didn’t quite know how we could ensure their safety during a pandemic. Not having volunteers didn’t change the fact that, in order to keep serving the animals and people of our community, we needed to somehow prepare for the 500 or so sick injured and orphaned wildlife that would be admitted in May alone.

The few volunteers we were able to bring back were put to the test, working long hours and constantly pivoting as we regularly changed every policy and procedure to stay in compliance with pandemic protocol.

The level of patience, understanding, and hard work that was put in by the small group of elite volunteers that we did bring back is astonishing. Everyone in the entire community should be proud of the wildlife volunteers that helped us to continue to care for over 3000 wild animals during what was one of the most challenging years that the world has endured.

Kindness and compassion drove every one of the volunteers, and together, we found a greater purpose and joy in the selfless service that is provided for our wild animal friends.

Thanks to volunteers, our Wildlife Department was able to continue caring for the wild animals of our community throughout 2020 and into 2021, including the animals you see in these photos.

Christin, an Environmental Studies major at University at Buffalo, is weighing Cypress the turtle. You’ll also see orphans and an opossum who was seeking an orthodontist who came to us in May; a turtle, fox, green heron, and one of five Northern Flickers who became our patients in July; a feathered friend not having his best day who was an autumn visitor; and a grease-covered robin who received a bath while slightly sedated in November.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped these animals receive second chances over the last 13 months.

–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

High Mortality, Disease Levels During Current HPAI Outbreak; SPCA Says All Should Be Aware of Risk

April 14, 2022
By: SPCA Wildlife Director Barbara Haney & Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

-Current HPAI outbreak infecting domestic poultry as well as wildlife, responsible for high levels of infection and mortality.

-SPCA Serving Erie County working with Erie County Health Department Division of Emergency Preparedness and Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center to continue accepting and treating local wildlife and to protect species.

-Community members urged to protect animals and prevent HPAI spread.

-Community members urged to report to the DEC observed die-offs of personal flocks, or of two or more members of same wild species in same area.

-Community members bringing birds to the Wildlife Department hospital at the SPCA are asked to wear masks, gloves, and are asked to not enter the building through any entrance; an admission area has been established outside the SPCA’s Wildlife Department.

Concern continues to mount regarding the current Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu (HPAI), according to SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Director Barbara Haney.

In an effort to share with members of the public why everyone should be aware of this outbreak and why a response must be rapid, Haney says, “This is a serious outbreak, the most serious since 2015, and needs to be treated as such. It is causing tremendous disease and mortality. As facilities around us are closing [Buffalo Zoo’s Rainforest Falls, Hawk Creek Wildlife’s Center admission of birds for rehabilitation, etc.] and poultry farms are ‘depopulating,’ the SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department has been busy planning for a high likelihood of a potential outbreak of HPAI here in Erie County.”

According to an April 12, 2022 HPAI outbreak document on Market Intel,  “Highly pathogenic avian influenza was first detected in wild birds in South Carolina on Jan. 13 of this year. Poultry growers, remembering well the 2014-2015 outbreak, collectively held their breath, hoping that the second shoe – outbreaks in commercial and backyard flocks – wouldn’t drop. Unfortunately, despite advanced biosafety protocols, the first outbreak in domesticated birds was detected on Feb. 8. Through April 7, USDA has announced more than 600 detections in wild birds across 31 states and 158 detections in commercial and backyard flocks across 25 states.”

Says Haney, “HPAI is spread through migrating waterfowl primarily shedding the virus as they migrate through and over areas. The last outbreak affected mainly turkeys. This outbreak is different in that it is affecting domestic poultry as well as wildlife, and is now present on the east coast [the last outbreak did not make it to the Atlantic migratory fly-way].”

Local wild species most at risk are gulls, all waterfowl (including mallards and Canada geese) and marsh birds, often asymptomatic, and crows, ravens, blue jays, and raptors. Haney shares that more than 24 million domestic poultry have been depopulated, and that, according to the American Farm Bureau, 40% of detections have been backyard flocks. “Owners of backyard flocks need to be diligent in practicing bio-security to protect their birds,” Haney warns, recommending flock owners turn to the USDA for information on proper and effective protection.

Locally, members of the SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department, Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center, and Wild Kritters received training from the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) Division of Emergency Preparedness to learn the best way to provide care to wild animals during this deadly outbreak. “While the HPAI risk to humans is minimal, if an infected wild animal enters the SPCA, our Wildlife Department could be closed for 30 days or more,” Haney says. “We cannot afford taking that chance, especially during what we call ‘baby season.’ Too many injured and/or orphaned animals need our help, especially at this time of year.”

To safely continue serving as many animals as possible and to protect humans as well as avian species and mammals, the SPCA has set up a wildlife admission area outside of the building, and with the help of the ECDOH, the Wildlife team has been outfitted with full PPE and N95 masks. All sick or injured birds of the at-risk species will be triaged by phone, and appropriate PPE and quarantine procedures will be in place. A system to separate and protect species has been established with Messinger Woods.

“When bringing a bird to our hospital, we ask that community members wear masks and gloves, and that they do not, under any circumstances, enter the facility at any part of the building,” Haney recommends.

Members of the community are asked to be cognizant of transporting objects or materials that might carry infection when out hiking or birding in areas that attract waterfowl; footwear should be cleaned or changed to reduce chances of spreading disease.

Those who observe die-off of any part of a personally-owned flock population, or two or more of the same wild species in the same area, are asked to notify the state Department of Environmental Conservation at 877-457-5680.

Contact the SPCA’s Wildlife Department with questions regarding wildlife, rehabilitation, and rescue: (716) 875-7360, ext. 247.

Hear more on Newsradio 930 WBEN >>

See This Story on News 4 Buffalo >>

More From 2 WGRZ On Your Side >>

Cornell Says Remove Bird Feeders >>

ECDOH HPAI Training at SPCA >>


April 5, 2022 — April 2 was a busy day at the SPCA Serving Erie County! Representatives of the Erie County Health Department’s Division of Emergency Preparedness came to the SPCA to help our Wildlife Department prepare to provide the safest care possible for our feathered friends due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

Representatives from Messinger Woods Wildlife Care and Education Center and Wild Kritters of Niagara County Inc. were invited to the session to learn, along with us, the best way to provide care upon receipt of animals affected by HPAI.

Members of the SPCA’s Wildlife Department and Educational Farm have spent many hours planning ahead in the event our organization is faced with admission of animals suffering from this highly-contagious disease carried by free-flying wild birds (ducks, geese, gulls, etc.). with new strains causing illness and high mortality in wild birds and domestic poultry.

The SPCA Serving Erie County extends a heartfelt thanks to the Erie County Health Department for the training, the donation of tremendous amounts of PPE, and fitting attendees for N95 respirators.

Read the March 24, 2022 report on HPAI from the Cornell University Wildlife Health Lab (the most recent University report on HPAI available at the time of this writing) HERE. For more on 2022 detections of HPAI in New York State commercial and backyard flocks, visit the USDA’s information page HERE.



— Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer

From Cornell Cooperative Extension and WKBW-TV 7 Buffalo: Take Down Bird Feeders to Help Stop Spread of Avian Flu

Click on image to see the full story


–Gina Lattuca, SPCA Serving Erie County Chief Communications Officer


From the SPCA’s Wildlife Department: The best place for a baby squirrel is with their mom. Did you know that squirrels carry their babies back up to the nest if they fall out? Did you know that squirrels always have a back-up nest? Please don’t feed them!

If you need help re-nesting a squirrel, you can call our Wildlife Department at 716-875-7360 ext. 247. If the babies are orphaned, you can call us, and we can help raise them to be released back to the wild.

From the SPCA’s Wildlife Department


Many people ask us what they can do for wildlife and the best thing you can do is plant native species.

Over the last 100 years or so, the continental United States has lost millions of acres of habitat due to our obsession with the perfect lawn. This monoculture of green carpet doesn’t support a functioning ecosystem. What does this mean? There are less and less healthy areas to support wildlife and a system that can support our very own human livelihood. Our future depends on supporting wildlife and a healthy ecosystem.

What can you do?


Native plant species have co-evolved along with certain native insects. The native insects support the native birds. This important relationship is the very thing that supports the healthy ecosystems that we need to continue to live in harmony with nature.

If you’re interested in learning more about this very humane approach to conservation in your own yard, please check out the book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, by Douglas W. Tallamy.

Also, if you need help with choosing native species for your home or business property check out!! They can help you with appropriate wildlife-friendly plants for your outdoor spaces.

And if you need help with sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, please don’t hesitate to call our hotline, available 7 days per week, 365 days per year, at 716-875-7360 ext. 247.

To support our efforts to help local wildlife, please donate here.

Injured Bald Eagle Rescued by SPCA Serving Erie County After Buffalo Police Hear “Loud Crash” Outside Building Yesterday

May 25, 2021
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca

See the full story from WGRZ-TV on “2 The Outdoors” >>

UPDATE 9/12/21: This afternoon, the injured bald eagle found by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County returned to the skies of Western New York! As detailed below, the eagle was operated on by staff at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital on May 27, and on June 30, the incredible team at Messinger Woods Wildlife Care & Education Center, Inc. in Holland, NY  picked up the eagle for extensive rehabilitation led by Marianne Hites! Today, the Messinger Woods team (pictured here), joined by members of the SPCA and local media, released the bald eagle at Wendt Beach in Derby, NY! Check out video of the release below:

See the full release video complete with photos here >>

To learn more about Messinger Woods and the fine work the organization does in caring for the wildlife of our community, please visit their Facebook page here >>

Thank you to all who played a part in this gorgeous creature’s return to our skies. An entire community came together to save her life, from the Buffalo Police to members of the SPCA Serving Erie County, to the team at Cornell, and finally to the crew at Messinger Woods. Neither the SPCA Serving Erie County or Messinger Woods would be able to do the work the organizations do and save the lives of so many animals each year if it wasn’t for the donors who make our work possible. On behalf of Messinger Woods and the Wildlife team at the SPCA Serving Erie County, thank you to the donors who help us give these animals second chances.

UPDATE 5/28/21: On Wednesday, May 26, the bald eagle spotted by members of the Buffalo Police Department & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was transported to Ithaca, NY. The eagle was dropped off at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital for surgery on a severely fractured femur; the center wanted him immediately because, as our own Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote and Wildlife Director Barbara Haney explained earlier this week, after that fracture the muscles contract and can make surgery much more difficult.

Today, we heard from staff there that the eagle is doing “great” after surgery! Now he’ll have time to rest and they will create a rehabilitation plan for him. Exciting news for the eagle, and for this community!

Also of note: in the photo here, you’ll notice a thin, thread-like spike (for lack of a better word!) at the tip of the eagle’s wings. Barbara Haney tells us that is indicative of the eagle’s status as a first-year eagle born sometime this calendar year, probably February or March. According to the National Eagle Center website, bald eagles fledge at approximately 10 – 14 weeks, which tells us he has not been out of the nest for long.

We may not receive another eagle update from the wildlife hospital for a few weeks, but when we do, we will definitely share that update with you.

Once again, we thank the members of this community for your care and compassion. Your constant support of all types is what makes our work possible.

UPDATE 5/26/21: The bald eagle spotted by Buffalo Police & rescued by the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a window in the City of Buffalo was dropped off moments ago at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, an annex of the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. He was photographed upon admission. We will provide updates on his progress as they are made available. Thank you to this caring, compassionate community, for all of the interest in and prayers for this magnificent bird. Your concern, your donations, and your constant support of all types are what make our work possible.

A juvenile bald eagle is in critical condition at the Wildlife Department of the SPCA Serving Erie County after flying into a high building window in the City of Buffalo yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Police Detective Mark Costantino

The SPCA received the call yesterday afternoon from Tracy Masiello, crime analyst for Erie County, after Buffalo Police Detective Mark Costantino and Officer David O’Brien heard a loud crash outside of their offices at Court and Franklin Streets in Buffalo. They ran outside and there, across the street, a large bird was struggling on the sidewalk. The crash they heard was the bird flying into a window of a building across the street, approximately 30 feet high.

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Police Detective Mark Costantino

“He tried to raise himself four or five times, but he was struggling and we could see he couldn’t lift up,” Detective Costantino said today. Despite the fact that the bird didn’t have a full white-feathered head, Detective Costantino said he knew right away that the bird was a bald eagle. “He was enormous, and his talons were so large, I could tell we were looking at an eagle.”

After receiving the call from Masiello, SPCA Serving Erie County Animal Rescue Team Officers Jennifer Maleskis and Tyler Robertson arrived at the location, retrieved the young bird, and rushed him to the SPCA’s Wildlife Department hospital, where they were met by Wildlife Director Barbara Haney and, within the hour, SPCA Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Karen Slote.

  “By the time the bird made it to us, he was obviously quite stressed,” says Haney. “In addition to not being able to stand, he had an injury on his beak and blood in his mouth. He was open-mouthed breathing, a clear sign of his high stress level.”

Dr. Slote was able to provide an initial examination and determined the bird, a first-year bald eagle, has a fractured femur. Further assessment and radiographs this afternoon confirmed a severe fracture.

“We are doing everything we can for this magnificent bird, considering its compromised state at the moment,” said Haney, when asked whether the bird will survive. “We’re careful not to provide any solid prognosis at this time because the bird is still in critical condition and the outcome is uncertain.”

At this time, Dr. Slote will consult with wildlife professionals at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Center, and will send them her assessment of the eagle along with the radiograph images. If the bird survives and responds to the supportive care, fluids, and medications it is receiving at the SPCA, Haney says, “…then it’s our hope that, once he is strong and stable, Cornell will accept the bird for surgery. The surgical team at Cornell is much better-suited for this sort of surgery…they perform it much more frequently…and they have the equipment and the pins and the other necessities large enough and strong enough for this extremely large animal.”

Haney adds, “Our primary hope right now is that the bird does, in fact, survive. That’s what we’re focused on right now. We’re doing everything in our power to help his survival so that we can actually have that discussion with Cornell about surgery and rehabilitation.”

This eagle is not the first cared for by the SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department. “Eagles have made quite a comeback in the last 30 years or so,” Haney said, “and we’re starting to see them in all parts of Western New York, the City of Buffalo included. It’s possible this bird became disoriented for what could be one of several reasons, possibly even due to his reflection in the window of the high building, or he may have been in a territorial scuffle with a peregrine falcon, as hypothesized by our contacts at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

The SPCA wishes to thank Buffalo Police Detective Costantino, Buffalo Police Officer O’Brien, and Erie County Crime Analyst Masiello for their cooperation, and for contacting our officers when they found the eagle and saw that it was in distress.

Keep watching for updates on the bald eagle.

Thank you to Detective Costantino, for providing us with the video and photographs from the scene of the rescue.

YOU can be part of saving these beautiful, wild animals in Erie County! Consider making a gift to the SPCA’s Wildlife Department right here >>




Click the image below for a downloadable copy of this flier, or register now for the SEPTEMBER 11 clinic or the SEPTEMBER 25 clinic.

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