This article first appeared in the June, 1997 issue of Best Friends Magazine, as well as on their website. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Please note that many things have changed since then — including our area code! But Fellow Mortals’ commitment to the value of individual life has never changed.
Healing bodies and spirits of injured wildlife
Yvonne Wallace Blane speaks softly, but with a deep passion, about the wild creatures in her care — usually 1,000 a year — at Fellow Mortals wildlife rehabilitation center in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. “Fellow Mortals is more than a place,” says Yvonne. “It is a commitment to the miracle of life.”
Founded in 1985 by Yvonne and her husband, Steven, the center provides full emergency and rehabilitative care for orphaned and injured wild animals, until they can be released back into their natural homes. Fellow Mortals, explains Yvonne, is a safe, quiet and peaceful place meant to heal both body and spirit. “Our experience and facilities allow us to take animals from critical care to release — meaning less stress for wildlife already in jeopardy.”
All wildlife who recover are released, but the permanently injured have a home for life at Fellow Mortals. “Sadly, Fellow Mortals exists because more and more creatures’ lives are interrupted each year when they are hit by cars, shot, poisoned, caught in fishing lines, or orphaned,” says Yvonne. “When that happens, we are here to pick up the pieces of that wildlife and provide care and sanctuary until the day when that creature can resume its wild destiny.”
“When I hold the strong feet of a hawk, I dream of throwing him back to the sky. When I bottle feed a fawn, I dream of the day she runs away from me into the woods.”
Yvonne’s own destiny was changed forever 12 years ago. Planning at the time to attend law school, Yvonne instead decided to devote her life to caring for injured wildlife after her encounter with a nest of young bunnies. “It shocked me into an awakening to all the wildlife around me,” she says. “That was the beginnings of Fellow Mortals.”
The center gained public attention in the winter of 1991-92 when a flock of Canada geese dying from lead poisoning was rescued from Lake Geneva and brought to Fellow Mortals for treatment. And now, each year Fellow Mortals deals with thousands of wild animals — and humans.
“Every animal that is brought to us is from a person who is feeling compassion for an injured, helpless creature,” Yvonne says. “We reward that compassion and allow it to thrive. We believe that encouragingcompassion in humans toward all life brings out the finest aspects of humanity.” Whenever possible, the center works with the public to reunite or keep uninjured orphans with their animal families.
State and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators are available at Fellow Mortals every day, and surgery and diagnostics are performed by area veterinarians and an animal chiropractor. “Limiting caregiving to a minimum number of professionals means that the animals receive consistent care provided by people who are trained to know what ‘normal’ is for a particular species, and who can therefore recognize injuries, diseases and illnesses, and have the knowledge to deal with them,” says Yvonne. More than half of the wild birds and mammals that come to the center every year are returned to the wild.
Fellow Mortals serves not only endangered animals, but all wild creatures who need help. “The sparrow you find is as important as the hawk your friend may find,” Yvonne says. “Both will receive the best care we have to offer. We believe that all creatures deserve to be treated with equal compassion.”
The center conducts at least 50 formal educational presentations a year, but “we also educate the public about wildlife and habitat on a daily basis through individual contact,” according to Yvonne. Fellow Mortals also serves as a training ground for young professionals — veterinary and biology students who work internships for college credit.
Helping injured wildlife also does wonders for the human spirit. Says Yvonne, “The imperfect, the injured, those born too young or too late — though the situation may be sad, each animal always bears a greater gift by inspiring our compassion. In healing, we are healed.”
For more information or to make a donation, contact Fellow Mortals at W4632 Palmer Road, Lake Geneva, WI 53147, or call (414) 248-5055.
Next: Alberta the Owl, helping to raise orphaned young
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W4632 Palmer Road | Lake Geneva, Wisconsin 53147
Phone: (262) 248-5055 to make an Appointment
for a time between 10 am and 7 pm