Kilgore’s Corner: A Conversation with the Creature Helper | Sports

What do you do if you find a lonely animal in the forest?

It depends.

Is the animal injured or is it just a child that you think is alone?

In my twenty years running a public park, it has never failed that during the Memorial Day weekend, well-meaning individuals have brought fake ones into the park’s natural world.

Retired Greenleaf State Park naturalist Steve Evans always includes in any nature program, especially in the spring, sage-wise advice for park visitors who might see a deer vanish in the woods on their own.

Sometimes people mistakenly believe that his mother has abandoned the antelope. In fact, the doe did not let her fawn. She is close and will be back. The doe hopes to leave her falsehood alone.

There are a few cases where you know that an animal is injured and may need to go to an animal rehabilitation specialist to survive. This is where animal rehabilitation comes in, like my friend Jill Keener.

Keener does an amazing job of volunteering to help animals in need. Kenner transports small animals such as opossums, birds, raccoons, rabbits, and more to Tulsa for rehabilitation. He retired from the Brockway Glass Factory in Muskogee in 2010 after 34 years and started his peace of mind work on pets when trying to hunt for a living didn’t work.

Keener goes to people’s home to sit on their pets so the animals don’t have to go to the kennel.

His start is keen when he discovers the mother of an opossum who has been run over by children who are still clinging to her. When he stopped and took them, the children screamed, touching him. Then he knew he was hooked.”

He took the kids to rehab and started talking about the greater need for transportation and rescue.

He remembers a call he received one morning about an elk calf being hit near Fort Gibson. A rehab worker named Karen Flush came with a horse trailer and took it home.

Finding the calf unwilling to eat, Flusche spoon-fed it to regain its strength. Greta, as she became known, had some teeth removed after a collision and a shoulder bruise.

“Nine months later, we were told that she should not be released back into the wild,” he said. “Karen called Woolrock near Bartlesville and they agreed to pick her up.”

Two years later, Wallrock posted a photo of Greta and her twins.

Four years ago, Keener received a call from a rancher in Locust Grove who had confined wolves to reduce the population.

“The breeder got a tender heart when a wolf found a mother in a leg trap with a litter of four young while she was in the trap. He said if I came and took them he wouldn’t get rid of them,” Keener said.

The farmer had already taken Mama’s wolf out of the trap and placed her in a live trap with her young.

“I got into the trap with a cage and a hunting crate,” Keener said. “I barely slipped on her, didn’t even tie her up, and got into the crate. I guess she knew I was there to help. I handed her every puppy without a fight or snarl. I took them to Wild Heart Ranch where they kept them for two months, then released them all.”

Wild Heart Ranch is a federally licensed rehabilitation facility near Claremore.

In another case two years ago, Keener acquired a Harrier’s hawk from a backyard at Warner. He took her to Wing It, in Tulsa, where Dr. Kristen Rivers stitched up a wound in her throat and treated her for head trauma.

A local game ranger called Keener and said he needed help bringing down a bald eagle.

Keener waded through a deep muddy creek and thick barriers trying to find him again. The bald eagle took off running when Keener saw it.

Keener said, “I got lucky when I bumped him against the guards. I put my net on him and was happy.

Fortunately, the guy who found him was following me on a four-wheeler and the game keeper wasn’t far behind.

“We were a mile from my truck and I was breathing a little bit,” Keener said. “After they helped me get him off the grid because he had a death grip on the grid, we got into the back of the four-wheeler and went to my truck.”

On the way back while pregnant, Keener was amazed at his beauty and size. Examination and x-rays did not reveal any damage, only penetrating feathers that will grow in time.

While no animal transportation fee is charged, Keener accepts donations to defray the cost of gasoline. Call him at (918) 781-2803.

Keener’s excitement and love for animals was evident when I visited with him. Now that I’m retired, I can join him on some animal transports that need care.

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