Thursday, January 24, 2019

Good Natured Pennsylvanian: Steph Stonsick, Wildlife Rehabilitator

Steph Stonsick began her wildlife rehabilitation journey 12 years ago while residing in San Diego, Ca., when she volunteered at a local nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation organization.
She learned how to feed baby songbirds, handle shorebirds, and then birds of prey; however, her interest in bat rehabilitation started when the organization rescued all native southern California species with the exception of bats.
Steph initiated their first bat rescue and rehabilitation protocol while mentoring under a bat rehabilitator.
After relocating back to her home state of Pennsylvania and working as a bat rehabilitator for a local wildlife rehabilitation center, Steph established the Pennsylvania Bat Rescue in Berks County in 2014.
Steph and her team of volunteers provide medical evaluation, examination, diagnosis, and treatment for bats, with the ultimate goal of releasing bats back into their natural habitat and a second chance to fly the night sky!
Running a bat rescue is no easy undertaking. Bats are normally a species not accepted at other wildlife rehab centers. In addition, PA Bat Rescue efforts are supported solely by public contributions. They do not receive any grants or financial assistance from state or federal agencies.
At any given time, there are 30-50 bats under their care, and more than 200 bats being cared for each year! Balancing the responsibilities of being a wildlife rehabilitator with family and work can be challenging.
Winter and summer seasons are busy times. Unseasonable winter temperatures can confuse hibernating bats to wake and look for food, which puts them in serious trouble when colder temperatures return.
This was the case for two sets of state parks bats currently under Steph’s care. Steph is providing a safe winter home for these bats until they can be released back in the parks in the spring.
During the summer, the PA Bat Rescue is caring for more than 30-40 baby bats each year, which are fed every two hours around the clock with a specialized formula.
“The most rewarding part about rescue is giving a second chance to one of the most misunderstood species in the world,” said Steph. “Bats that come into our care that were less likely to survive without our services are given the opportunity to fly free.”
Steph hopes to expand their rehabilitation space, continue to work closely with state and federal biologists, monitor local populations, and increase their public education outreach.
“Without public concern about a distressed bat we would not be able to do what we do. Education is such a vital portion of our rescue, and we get the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people,” said Steph.
Learn more about Steph’s work by visiting the PA Bat Rescue website, and following them on Facebook and Instagram.
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Send DCNR’s Resource newsletter an email to:  to nominate someone.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

(Reprinted from the January 23 issue of the DCNR Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

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