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Frigid Temps Pose Danger To Local Wildlife

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The temperature was last above freezing in the Twin Cities three weeks ago.

People are having a tough time dealing with it, and so are some animals.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota has been treating a swan for frostbite since November. This is unusual for waterfowl.

"During the winter we often get in frostbite cases," said Medical Director Renee Schott.

Birds are designed to be able to handle extreme temperatures, but this cold spell can be life threatening for some.

"Generally, frostbite happens when an animal's already sick, and then the temperatures are cold," Schott said.

She said birds that are sick or injured are not able to move around as much to keep their bodies warm. Frostbite sets in, and the birds can quickly become malnourished.

Trumpeter swans at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota
A trumpeter swan (credit: CBS)

"He was on the ground not walking and not flying," she said. "They were able to catch him so he got brought in."

The great blue heron was brought in to the Roseville rehab center this week with frostbite on both feet. Veterinarians are still trying to figure out what other injuries the bird is dealing with

"He should have flown away when the water froze, so we're still trying to figure that out," she said.

A trumpeter swan, who has been at the center since November, also had frostbite on both feet. The bird had a serious toe injury that required surgery.

The center saw 18 cases of frostbite in 2016, and 20 cases in 2017.

The swan is healing well from surgery, and may be released back into the wild soon; out in the cold and near open water.

"They're used to much, much colder winters than now," Schott said. "They've evolved to deal with it."

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota says a good way to check if a bird is injured is to approach it quickly and see if it will fly or run away.

If it does not, that is usually a sign that it is injured. Call the center at 651-486-9453, and they will send someone out to safely capture the animal.

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