Preparing for a hurricane can be expensive, especially if you’re a bird of prey.
To prepare for whatever Hurricane Irma may bring, Wildlife Inc. Education and Rehabilitation Center stocked up on at least $1,500 worth of food to fill their three freezers and two refrigerators for Athena the great horned owl, Barnabus the barn owl and the more than 100 other creatures under its watch. Incubators and generators were also on hand.
“We have evacuated twice before with all of our wildlife here, so we know what to expect,” said Ed Straight, the nonprofit’s president.
Animal kennels were stacked up along the side of the house as baby raccoons snoozed away in the September heat. Straight said volunteers would probably start moving the animals Saturday, but there was still the question of to where.
“Luckily, we’re kind of on the in-between season,” Straight said.
Six deer and nearly 40 screech owls had been released well ahead of the storm. Next, they’ll be looking out for baby squirrels.
“I’m sure after this storm, whatever it might do, I would think it would probably at the least here we would get some gale force winds which would blow the baby squirrels out of the tree,” Straight said.
During Hurricane Hermine, Straight said they rescued 55 baby squirrels in the two days after the storm, which was a Category 1 and missed Manatee County.
Damen Hurd, the nonprofit’s vice president, said he would be bagging and boxing the venomous snakes they had to move them out east. He added that the organization has kept in touch with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
If there’s an animal emergency, he said he’d still heed the call.
“I’ll rescue up until it’s impossible to rescue,” Hurd said.