The Center’s twin mission is to rehabilitate wildlife and return them to the wild, and to provide education for all ages promoting appreciation and understanding of wildlife.
Harriet Wilson founded the Rehabilitation Center in 1989. The facility, originally located on Tamarack Lake, has since moved to Stull Road on the outskirts of Saegertown in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne DeArment was the center’s rehabilitator and director from 1993 until the spring of 2013, added the educational component of the Center’s mission. Tamarack’s work continues with licensed wildlife rehabilitators Carol Holmgren and Kris Steiner.
In the beginning Tamarack treated every type of injured wildlife but the numbers requiring assistance soon became overwhelming. The Center now specializes in treating birds of prey of all ages, adult seed-eating songbirds, turtles and opossums. Other species of wildlife are cared for whenever there is the staffing, room and funding to do so.
The admission protocol for injured animals is similar to that seen in a human ER setting. Upon arrival at the center, the wild animal is evaluated in the admission room. The medical examination usually reveals what's required whether it's splinting a fracture, cleaning and dressing wounds, treating for parasites or the administration of medications or fluids. In species prone to lead toxicity, a lead blood test is run.
Then the patient is settled in an enclosure in I.C.U., an indoor room where patients needing intensive care are housed. It is common for patients to remain in I.C.U. for several weeks as their fractures heal or they recover from illness. If appropriate, hands on physical therapy is given to improve range of motion and promote full recovery.
Once the patient is deemed ready to begin self-exercise, the wildlife patient is moved to one of several outdoor enclosures. These enclosures shelter the patient from the elements and potential predators. This setting affords the patient the opportunity to adjust to the outside environment and gain stamina while still being regularly fed and treated by Tamarack's staff. Our largest avian patients, Bald Eagles, receive flight conditioning in an 104 foot long flight building. Before release each patient is carefully evaluated for its ability to survive in the wild.
Recently more bald eagles have been admitted at Tamarack. In the founding years, a bald eagle was treated once every few years. Since 2007, however, with the rebound of bald eagles in the area, that number has risen to five to ten eagles treated per year.
On occasion the injuries some wildlife sustain cause them permanent disability and they can't be returned to the wild. These patients are evaluated for both health and temperament. The Tamarack staff then work to place candidates in an appropriate licensed setting. Some can act as foster parents for orphaned young at a rehabilitation center. Others become ambassadors of their breed and are placed with Zoos or Nature Centers. Often a young Red-tailed Hawk or Screech Owl takes to glove training and shines as the star of an education program.
Tamarack has an impressive release rate. Of the admissions that survive the first 24 hours, typically over 70% are released. Our greatest success is seeing a wild animal returned to its home. With birds, this can be quite dramatic and breathtaking as they return to the open sky.
Live birds captivate and inspire us. Seeing them up close intensifies that experience. Tamarack provides educational programming throughout our region where live birds of prey serve as models of physical and behavioral adaptations, natural selection and human impact on species survival. An amazing cast of birds assist in this goal: Willow, a tiny Eastern Screech Owl, Lady Hawk, a powerful Red-Tailed Hawk, and Pierre, a sleek Peregrine Falcon, among others. During programming an owl, hawk or falcon perches on a handler's glove. Take the opportunity to see these magnificent wild creatures up close. The encounter is awe inspiring.Read more on our Education Page and meet our Education Birds.
Tamarack has two licensed wildlife rehabilitators: Carol Holmgren and Kris Steiner. Carol Holmgren has assisted wildlife rehabilitators since she was a child and worked at the center for seven years with Suzanne DeArment before becoming licensed. Now Executive Director of Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, Carol earned an MA at Northern Illinois University.
Kris Steiner is Assistant Director of Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center where she has worked since 2008. During the school year Kris uses her BA in Education to assist children with disabilities become independent in school and home settings. At Tamarack, Kris especially enjoys working with raptors and teaching the public about them to foster a greater appreciation of these magnificent creatures.
A crew of assistants, educators, interns, volunteers, and work-study college students feed and care for the wildlife, and manage the other daily needs of the facility. Also assisting the center's staff are wildlife dispatchers, Wildlife First Responders and Transporters. Dispatchers are trained volunteers who remotely access phone messages left at the center regarding injured wildlife or other questions. They then evaluate the situation and suggest how to handle it. First Responders and Transporters volunteer to transport injured wildlife to the center. Tamarack's hands-on Board of Directors see to such behind the scene details as fund-raising, promotion and finances.
Remember, only a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator can legally care for injured wildlife. Please DO NOT try to treat wildlife yourself. Tamarack's expert staff can be reached at: 814-763-2574.
We are registered as a charitable organization in Pennsylvania and have non-profit 501-(c)-3 status with the IRS. As such, we are governed by a board of directors, all of whom are volunteers. Sarah Sargent has served as the board president since 2008. As of June 2013, other board members include Susan Smith (Vice President), Jess Williams (Treasurer), Lindsey Sylvis (Secretary), Bob Hartman, Jason Fidorra and Sharon Wesoky. The board meets on a monthly basis.
Donations and memberships are the life blood of Tamarack. They support Tamarack's mission to heal injured wildlife and return them to the wild. Tamarack does not receive any government funding. Join the team. Share your time and skills with the center. Become a member of Tamarack, sponsor an educational bird, or make a memorial contribution. It's your donations that give these animals a second chance.