Wildlife rehab still making animals stronger 40 years after Gulf disaster

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Spring Branch is home to a lot of wildlife, and not just in backyards. It's home to the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition, which saves mammals, birds and reptiles that are injured or orphaned.

The group formed with a couple of people 40 years ago.

"It was after an oil spill in the Gulf. They took in birds that were impacted, and all this grew out of that," said Oriana Franklin with TWRC.

The coalition is currently housed in an office park on Hammerly Boulevard. The latest admissions are baby squirrels whose eyes haven't yet opened. They're given antibiotics and will be nursed back to health so they can be released to the wild.

"Our intakes have gone up by at least 10 percent a year," Franklin said, citing, in part, habitat destruction.

Some of the animals will not be released, like a young possum that is blind. An owl, hidden away in camouflage in her cage, will remain at the coalition because of injuries.

Franklin has advice for people who try to save baby birds they find on the ground.

"They've fallen out of the nest, which is normal," she said. "They usually stay on the ground, under the protective eyes of their parents, who feed them, and fend off intruders. Unless they're injured, you're bird-napping."

She also recommended that if you find an animal in distress, avoid giving it food.

"You may give it the wrong thing, which can harm them. Instead, bring them to us," Franklin insisted.

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