LINCOLNTON, NC (FOX 46) - "I need fruits and vegetables, I need volunteers, I need to sleep. All I want to do is sleep," NC Wildlife rehabber Emiliee Nelson says.
Nelson is knee-deep in baby season by taking care of more than 200 squirrels, bunnies, possums and otters 24/7. A little overwhelmed as well but wouldn’t change it.
Many of the wild animals she has taken in are injured, sick or have been abandoned. Nelson is trying to show people that the animals are important to us and our ecosystem, and what to do if you encounter them.
She is asking people not to feed them or take them home, instead call an NC License rehabber to do the job they are trained to do.
"There are so many that aren't going to survive and every animal has a purpose. The squirrels eat bugs, the possums eat ticks, and they eat dead things and reduce disease," Nelson said.
While they are cute at this age, for Nelson, it all comes with a price.
"When you are feeding them, they just bite you out of nowhere. Just chomp at you. ‘Wait a minute, don't you remember who is feeding you?'" Nelson said.
Nelson also has squirrels infected with bordetella and squirrel pox and is spending a heavy price on medicine and food. One bucket of formula runs nelson over $200 and only lasts her a week. This year so far, they have spent over $20,000 to be able to run their non-profit and take care of the animals.
"It's more than what people think, it's not just formula, it's laundry, detergent, it's bleach, cleaning supplies, it's syringes, needles, nipples, tubes,” Nelson said.
Even with the high price tag, Nelson said she feels she has to do it.
"I’m so scared because there are so few people rehabbing that if I don't take them, then they are going to die," Nelson said.
With her and her volunteers at her non-profit NC Wildlife Rehab, she said the animals have a fighting chance.
NC Wildlife is a non-profit and receives no funding from the government. You can help NC Wildlife help these animals by donating to them.
Nelson has set up a gofundme page and an Amazon Wishlist but if you would like to donate goods they are in need of food, formula and much more. You can reach them on their facebook page: NC Wildlfe Rehab