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A Glimpse into the Daily Life of an Animal Rescuer Volunteer

correct grammar of this content and keep HTML tags Tim Thompson puts baby owls back within the nest. COURTESY CONSERVANCY OF SWFL If there’s a native bird, owl, mammal or reptile in distress, Tim Thompson shall be there. For greater than 20 years Thompson has been rescuing injured wildlife throughout Southwest Florida to take to The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. He also rescues creatures for CROW, Rookery Bay, FWC and other wildlife groups. “I first went to The Conservancy when my now 36-year-old was happening a field trip in third grade,” Thompson began. “That’s after I first discovered about The Conservancy. I used to be a chaperone on the sector trip, and I saw something that said, ‘volunteers needed,’ and I all the time loved birds.” Once he began his local design business and had his own work schedule, he signed as much as volunteer. “I began like plenty of people, cleansing the cages,” he described. “It was not plenty of fun. You’re picking up old fish that the birds didn’t want. I used to be leaving someday and I had a rack on my truck for ladders and someone opened the door at The Conservancy and saw my rack ladders, and said ‘can you set an owl up in a tree in a laundry basket for us’? And I don’t have an issue with heights so I took the owl. Now I’ve done it greater than 100 times.” Wildlife Hospital Volunteer Critter Courier Tim Thompson restrains an osprey while staff rehabilitator, Colleen Cosgrove, performs a physical exam. Thompson rescued the osprey from the median on I-75 after a motorist reported the situation to the Conservancy. ROBYN GILLES / COURTESY PHOTO Thompson’s ladders go as much as 30 feet. For higher nests, he meets an area arborist tree climber. “It’s a standard thing that great horned owls are likely to fall out of their nests,” he said. “Lots they simply don’t make good nests, they steal them.” In the event that they are injured, he takes them to The Conservancy. If the nest has been destroyed, he returns them in a man-made nest or a laundry basket. “People could be surprised what number of big birds — hawks owls, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, eagles — we pull out of screened in pool cages,” he described. “It’s all the time funny to seek advice from the people after they get up, and they give the impression of being of their screened in lanai and see a bald eagle or a large great horned owl.” Thompson says the larger birds crash through a screen while chasing prey. Then they’ll’t work out the way to exit. Tim Thompson rescues an osprey from a lake in Bonita Bay. COURTESY PHOTO / TIM THOMPSON “The eagle was an incredible story,” he began. “After I went to catch it, it flew across the pool deck. Because I didn’t catch it quickly enough, it broke through the opposite screen, tumbled on the grass checked out me like, “not today” and took off. If that had been on camera, that may have gone viral.” One among his most amazing rescues was an owl. A person was moving to Naples from northern Florida and an owl hit the grill of his truck on I-75 when he was traveling about 75 miles per hour. The person drove 200 miles considering the owl was dead. When he arrived in Naples and called the Conservancy to remove a dead owl, Thompson was shocked. “No person knows the way it survived,” he exclaimed. “I looked within the truck and was taking a look at that bird and it was staring back at me. Absolutely, I believed that was going to be a dead bird. We took it back to The Conservancy, and a month later we took it back as much as the estimated area where it was hit and released it. It’s truly a miracle.” Tim Thompson holds a baby eastern screech owl that he’s about to place back right into a nest. ANDREA STETSON / FLORIDA WEEKLY Officials at The Conservancy praise Thompson for his years of volunteering. “Every little thing he has done is for the betterment of the animals,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “He has never got caught up in being within the paper or being the guy getting the popularity. He has just done what is correct for the animals. He has done a lot that we consider him an authority. He’s just an incredible guy.” As Thompson prepares to go away town and move to North Carolina in November, he looks back on his most memorable experiences saving Southwest Florida wildlife. He remembers an osprey hanging the other way up from its nest, tangled in fishing line at Bonita Beach and Tennis Club. “That was a really dangerous situation for that bird. It could have lost its leg,” Thompson said. “I used to be quarter-hour away at Bonita Bay after I got the decision. We took the elevator 15 floors up after which I needed to climb up on the tower that held the nest where the bird was. He was hanging the other way up with the fishing line around his leg. So I needed to cut him down. It was just really good that I used to be there soon because that bird was going to die.” This eagle got inside a pool cage in Naples. When Tim went to catch it to get it out of the pool cage, the eagle flew through a screen on the opposite side of the cage and escaped unharmed. COURTESY PHOTO / TIM THOMPSON It was harder when he was called to rescue a pelican dangling from fishing line 80 feet up in a tree near Seagate. Even the fireplace department said it was too high for a rescue. So he called Dan Powell, owner of Davie Tree Service, who sent a climber to secure the branch with ropes after which saw it partway like a hinge. He (Powell) said he’s going to chop that branch and it should swing down and it should swing right into my hands, and that is strictly what happened,” Thompson described. Powell said Thompson was very knowledgeable during rescues. “His really calm, cool demeanor is a extremely big thing,” Powell said. “His heart is basically into helping the birds within the safest way. He’s just awesome to work with.” Tim Thompson gets able to put a juvenile great horned owl back in its nest. COURTESY PHOTO / TIM THOMPSON Thompson has pulled birds out of chimneys. “It was not coming out by itself, so we got it out, after which we let it go,” Thompson said. Thompson has had adventures with quite a lot of creatures. He’s rescued sea turtles and tortoises, manatees and dolphins. “We don’t just do birds, we do any native animal,” he explained. “People put nets over their koi ponds to maintain the wading birds out and two times I went to free a black racer stuck in the web.” The second time he pulled the black racer out, he thought it was dead. He cut it out of a net, put it in a bag and started driving to The Conservancy. “Unexpectedly the snake, that was probably just in shock, starts wiggling,” he described. “It starts going nuts and it pokes its head out of the bag and I’m driving and holding it, and this three-foot snake gets out of the bag and goes around on the ground of my automobile. I pull over. There may be a park and it’s grassy and I open the automobile door and the snake jumps out of the automobile and slithers away, and all I can think is what’s that automobile behind me is considering.” Tim Thompson rescued this Great Horned Owl that had an injured wing. COURTESY PHOTO / TIM THOMPSON After years of just volunteering at The Conservancy, Thompson broadened his love of animal rescue. He helps CROW, Rookery Bay and FWC. He’s helped lift heavy turtles and dolphins into trucks for transport to wildlife hospitals. He’s even driven a few of those creatures to safety. “I identical to helping out,” he said. Thompson was born in Atlanta and moved to Brevard County, Florida in 1970. He moved to Naples in 1987 and started working within the hospitality industry. Later he and his wife, Leslie, began their interior design and residential improvement business. Now at age 64, Thompson says it’s time to retire and move to North Carolina, but he says the move is tough. “I’m going to miss my friends,” he said. “Individuals who have the time to care about animals are my army people.” Fitzgerald goes to miss Thompson. “He knows this town, and he’s so respected,” Fitzgerald said. “He wants people to become involved. He can also be on the market educating and raising awareness. He’s all the time willing to do more. He has just done a lot for the wildlife on this community and not only…

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