LINCONTON, NC (FOX 46) -
It can be a nutty job
"Nuts literally, especially if you saw me running around getting them all," Emilie Nelson said.
"I like that you find the humor in that," FOX 46 Charlotte's Yolian Ortiz replied.
"You have to! You pick up nuts; you don't know how many, when you pick up these nuts, how many wise cracks you get. It's like you have to laugh," Nelson said
More than 2,000 pounds of nuts Licensed Wildlife Rehabber Emilie Nelson has to get for the squirrels she nurtures back to health.
Nelson's non-profit NC Wildlife Rehab takes on small mammals we consider just a little gross, like "Bruce" the possum. Nelson tries to help change people's view of these undesired animals.
"The best thing I can do is educate people. A lot of people see a possum and they're like eww possum. Wild animals are so neat and they are so interesting and they actually help the environment a lot and nobody's there to help the wild animals. You do it because you love it," Nelson explained.
She always wants to get people to understand that wild animals aren't pets and there's a lot of required knowledge behind helping these animals.
"So many people will find a baby animal and I understand it's cute and they are fuzzy and you just fall in love with them and they are the sweetest thing ever. Then they start looking online and they find recipes. Basically any wild animal you feed milk to is going to get screaming diarrhea and kill them."
The job isn't very glamorous either. Nelson has been bitten, scratched and even cleaned wounds full of maggots and spent thousands of dollars on just on food and medication.
"Being a wild life rehabber, there are times when you are so exhausted and so frustrated," Nelson said.
But it's a life she wouldn't trade.
"I cannot imagine not doing this. I really couldn't. If you come during baby season and you see and you fall in love with them and you get to see them grow up and you know they're healthy and they are going to be able to be released. I’m not saying that there aren't any other animals that aren't going to eat them, there's the food chain but at least you are giving them a chance," Nelson said.