Eagles, Turtles, and Bears—Oh My!

Tufts Wildlife Clinic reports another record year for number of cases, seeing close to 4,000 patients in 2017
an injured red-tailed hawk recuperating at Tufts Wildlife clinic
A red-tailed hawk at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic recuperating from orthopedic surgery after sustaining a gunshot wound to its wing. Photo: Anna Miller
January 23, 2018


If you had to guess, how many red-tailed hawks would you think the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine saw in 2017: a) 5; b) 63; or c) 155?

If you guessed C, you’d be right—along with 1,901 other birds, ranging from ubiquitous American robins to threatened bald eagles. The year 2017 was a mighty busy one for Tufts Wildlife Clinic, said Jessica Zorge, who manages the intake of wild patients at Cummings School. For the second year running, Tufts Wildlife Clinic saw a record number of wildlife cases, treating a total of 3,717 patients in 2017—an increase of 23 percent over the previous year’s caseload and double the number of patients seen annually just five years ago. Many creatures you might not expect graced the doorways of the clinic, from black bears (6) to snapping turtles (53) to bobcats (6) to ruby-throated hummingbirds (11).

Patients brought in by good Samaritans, police and animal control officers, and state wildlife officials in 2017 reflected the following diverse species.


A black bear yearling is momentarily tranquilized while it receives its last checkup and an ear tag at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic before being released into the wild. The bear arrived at the clinic significantly underweight; after doubling its weight while in recovery, the bear was released into the wild in the Berkshires. Photo: Anna Miller787 eastern cottontail rabbits
306 eastern gray squirrels
104 Virginia opossums
63 eastern chipmunks
19 North American porcupines
13 southern flying squirrels
8 eastern coyotes
8 gray fox
7 red fox
6 American black bears
5 red squirrels
4 North American beavers
3 common muskrats
2 bobcats
2 weasels (1 long-tailed, 1 short-tailed)
1 Canada lynx
1 fisher


A curious barred owl keeps a close watch while being rehabilitated at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Photo: Anna Miller 155 red-tailed hawks
93 mourning doves
71 barred owls
68 mallards
50 northern cardinals
42 American crows
37 great-horned owls
36 Cooper’s hawks
36 wild turkeys
25 broad-winged hawks
11 ruby-throated hummingbirds
9 bald eagles
7 common loons
7 turkey vultures
5 peregrine falcons
3 common ravens
2 black-billed cuckoos
1 golden eagle


A young diamondback terrapin at the Wildlife Clinic. It was later released into the wild when it grew large enough to evade predators. Photo: Anna Miller61 painted turtles
53 snapping turtles
16 diamondback terrapins
12 eastern box turtles
7 spotted turtles
4 common garter snakes
4 wood turtles
3 northern water snakes
2 Blanding’s turtles
2 eastern milk snakes
1 ring-necked snake


A toad recovering from surgery to its leg rests at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Photo: Anna Miller5 American toads
1 gray treefrog
1 green frog
1 pickerel frog
1 red-backed salamander

Wildlife cases seen at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic are treated without charge. If you would like to aid the Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in covering the costs of these treatments, you may give online. If you have found orphaned, injured or sick wildlife, you can call 508-839-7918 or visit http://wildlife.tufts.edu to get advice on what to do next.

Genevieve Rajewski can be reached at genevieve.rajewski@tufts.edu.