The Wild Side of Dane County Humane Society

Photo by Dane County Human Society

If you wander past the kennels of adoptable dogs and the kittens vying for your attention, youll find yourself in a part of Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) few ever seea wilder side.

Although DCHSs Wildlife Center (formerly Four Lakes Wildlife Center) has been rehabilitating wild animals since 2002, surprisingly few in the community are familiar with it. In its inaugural year, the program took in just over 100 ill, injured, and orphaned wild animals. Fifteen years later, the Wildlife Center takes in over 3,000 patients annually, representing more than 100 different native Wisconsin species.

As growing communities of humans and wild animals continue living side by side, DCHSs Wildlife Center has seen the need for its services grow nearly every year. Concerned citizens call every day with questions or seeking advice on how best to help wild animals in need, calls like the one that came in this past December alerting staff and volunteers to a Canada goose trapped in ice on Lake Mendota.

The goose was entangled with fishing line, which had tethered her to another Canada goose that was already deceased. Unable to move off the water, the lower half of her body became frozen in the lake. Three dedicated volunteers sat out on the frozen lake for hours, carefully chipping a large block of ice in order to bring the goose and ice back to the Wildlife Center, where the ice could be safely melted. The bird was scared and exhausted, but thankfully had only minor frostbite and some abrasions on her wings.

Photograph provided by Dane County Humane Society

The experienced staff at DCHSs Wildlife Center provided the goose with supplemental fluids, medications, wound care, and much-needed rest. Within 10 days, she had made a full recovery and was released back to her home by the same volunteers who saved her life.

The Wildlife Center, which has less activity during the winter season, will soon be bustling as hundreds of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds come in after being injured or orphaned. Staff recommend observing a baby animal and calling the Wildlife Center at (608) 838-0413x151 before bringing an animal in. Many times baby animals can appear orphaned when parents are actually just keeping their distance to keep their young safe.

And starting this upcoming busy season, the hundreds of wild patients and dozens of dedicated staff and volunteers will be recovering and working a little more comfortably. The newly remodeled Wildlife Center officially reopened its doors in early March, but efforts still remain to raise the funds needed to sustain this growing program and meet the needs of the community. DCHS is a private, nonprofit organization and is able to care for thousands of animals in need every year thanks to community support and the generosity of its donors.

If you find an injured, ill, or orphaned wild animal or would like to learn how you can help support DCHS and its Wildlife Center, visit or call (608) 838-0413.

Marissa DeGroot is the Public Relations Coordinator at Dane County Humane Society.