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CROW surpasses 4,000 patients for the year

By Staff | Sep 30, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED CROW veterinary intern Dr. Megan Cabot examines a laughing gull, the 4,000th patient admitted to CROW in 2019.

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife recently admitted its 4,000th patient of the year after it was rescued from the beach by a staff member who was participating in the International Coastal Cleanup.

On Sept. 21, Education & Development Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt and other staff members were taking part in the clean up at Bowman’s Beach, which was coordinated by Keep Lee County Beautiful and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, when she noticed the bird.

“There was a flock of terns and gulls that took off from the beach and this one was left behind,” Rainbolt said about noticing the distressed bird. “As I approached, it struggled and stumbled on the beach, so I could immediately tell that something was not right with it.”

The laughing gull, a common gull species found throughout coastal areas, was rushed to CROW’s wildlife hospital where veterinarians took over. They noted the bird to be having trouble breathing and that it was emaciated and very weak, unable to stand. Bloodwork led them to suspect the bird had aspergillosis, a fungal infection that can commonly affect seabirds with weakened immune systems.

Radiographs and an endoscope procedure were scheduled to confirm the suspected diagnosis, but the bird passed away in the supplemental oxygen chamber before they could be performed.

PHOTO PROVIDED A laughing gull, the 4,000th patient admitted to CROW’s wildlife hospital in 2019, is provided supplemental oxygen shortly after being rescued from the beach.

Although the gull did not survive, as the 4,000th patient, it marks a milestone for patient admissions in 2019. So far this year, CROW has seen approximately a 7 percent increase in patient totals compared with the same time frame in 2018 – a year which saw unprecedented numbers of sea turtles and birds affected by red tide. Since 2014, patient admissions to the hospital have increased by over 40 percent.

“Our caseload continues to grow year after year,” Dr. Robin Bast, staff veterinarian at CROW, said. “At the current rate, we expect we’ll exceed 5,000 patients well before the end of the year, a number we have never reached before.”