POCATELLO, Idaho (KIDK/KXPI) - A woman approached KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in September to inform him that a local woman rehabs wild birds of prey and she pays for it all out of her own pocket. The woman also said that Idaho Fish and Game uses the local woman as a resource.
After some investigating, Kunz found out it's true. And the Alameda Pet Hospital in Pocatello works closely with the woman too. The pet hospital even has a special wildlife pet fund dedicated to this purpose. Currently, it is empty. So it's time to Pay it Forward.
Kunz first made a stop at the Idaho Fish and Game Southeast Region office in Pocatello.
"We do have folks in the area that are able to provide their expertise and their talents in helping rehab animals," said Jennifer Jackson, regional conservation educator.
The person Kunz was inquiring about is Leslie Schwindt. She studied conservation biology at Idaho State University and volunteers at the Pocatello Zoo. And she is a certified wildland and migratory bird rehab specialist.
"Yes, I hold the state and federal permits to rehab birds of prey," said Schwindt after Kunz tracked her down at the Alameda Pet Hospital. And that's important. Fish and Game wanted to emphasize that the public should not attempt to pick up wild birds, even if the bird looks abandoned or injured. The department asks that you contact Fish and Game and it will come out and assess the situation and work with people such as Schwindt and Dr. Crystal Shropshire at the Alameda Pet Hospital, who have teamed up for the past three years.
"I am one of the only vets in southeast Idaho that works on the birds of prey," said Shropshire.
Both Schwindt and Shropshire said they do it for the animals, including an injured red-tailed hawk that Fish and Game had recently brought in.
"We do the birds of prey. We'll do songbirds if they come in, pretty much all of the birds. I do some forensic work for Fish and Game," said Shropshire.
It's not an easy job and takes a lot of patience. Now it's time to Pay it Forward.
"Rehab is a very specialized, labor-intensive thing. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of dedication," said Shropshire.
"Dr. Crystal and Leslie, how are you?" said a man walking into the hospital room.
"Hi," said Schwindt.
"Good. I'm Kory, with Mountain America Credit Union. We've heard about you guys' efforts here in the community and also your special skills to rehab these large birds, that we're here today to Pay It Forward. And so I've brought with me today, $500 in cash that I know you'll put towards good use and to continue your efforts into rehabbing these birds," said Carling.
"Thank you," said Schwindt.
"Absolutely," said Shropshire.
"So on behalf of Mountain America, we're here to Pay It Forward. Thank you so much," said Carling.
"Well, thank you very much! That will definitely go into the wildlife fund, yes," said Shropshire.
"Perfect," said Carling.
"And it's much needed," said Schwindt.
"Yeah. Definitely. It goes to offset the cost of the rehab, the X-rays, the blood work, the surgery expenses, the care. And of course, on Leslie's end, the massive amount of care that goes into rehabbing and feeding these birds so that they don't become imprinted on humans, kill testing them so they can learn to hunt again in the wild. That's a big obligation. So we very much appreciate it," said Shropshire.
"You're welcome. Thanks for all you do," said Carling.
Again, Idaho Fish and Game wants to remind the public to let these professionals do what they are trained to do. Do not pick up a wild bird or try to care for a wild animal. Call Fish and Game instead.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.