Rescue groups work to keep animals safe in frigid temps - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rescue groups work to keep animals safe in frigid temps

Courtesy Linda Bethke Courtesy Linda Bethke

MADISON (WKOW) -- The bitter cold is taking a toll on animals in our area.

We found goats wearing coats and pot belly pigs under their blankets at Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Verona Thursday. Meteorologists say the weather is only going to get colder.

"Not only is it hard on the staff and the volunteers but we do have to spend a little bit extra money and time trying to keep these animals warm," Heartland Operations Director Alecia Torres says.

The Dane County rescue group is at capacity right now. Torres says there are nearly 60 farm animals in their care.

"We insulate it as best we can with plastic on the windows and so forth but we don't have any type of heating," Torres says about the barn.

So they're using more straw, passing out the snow gear, and some of the birds more vulnerable to the cold are staying at the homes of volunteers.

The below freezing temperatures don't just make it harder to take care of the animals, one Sauk County bird rescue group says it actually brings more in.

Linda Bethke runs Soaring Eagle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Prairie du Sac. She says the bitter cold and deep snow cover can be tough on local wildlife. "A lot of your young birds that hatched in early 2013 are the ones that come in starving," she says. That's in part because it's harder to find food.

The rehab center is taking care of 15 birds right now, including a rare snowy owl found in Marquette County on Christmas Eve. "In a really harsh winter, they come farther south," Bethke says.

She goes on to say the owl was frozen and covered in ice. She hopes as they nurse it back to health there will be a change in the forecast.

"We had quite a few come in the fall, those are the ones were keeping over the winter, so we're just hoping that this terrible, terrible cold spell kind of goes away."

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