Featured CWR



Laura Stastny

Rehabs at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Inc

CWR since 2018

  1. How long have you been rehabilitating wildlife and what led you to become a wildlife rehabilitator?

I rehabilitated my first raccoons in 1999; however, I consider January 2001 as my “official” start date rehabilitating wildlife.  This means that 2020 is my 20th baby season!

I always knew that I wanted to work in an animal-focused field. I majored in biology and throughout college worked in a veterinary clinic and at an animal shelter.  I also did disaster response work for the HSUS.  I later became the executive director of that animal shelter.  When I moved back to Nebraska, I decided I wanted to move away from animal work for a time.  That lasted about 3 months, when I decided to try “something new,” and began volunteering for Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.  Eventually we grew the organization so that I could move from a volunteer rehabilitator to a paid director, and I was able to leave my other career for this one.

  1. What is your favorite animal you work with?

​This is a HARD QUESTION! My original inspiration for working with wildlife was bats, but now I have a special affinity for digging mammals — I truly love working with American badgers (attitude!), woodchucks, and prairie dogs. Over the years, my appreciation for birds of all kinds has really grown, and it’s always a joy for me to work with a new species.

  1. When did you know you wanted to work with wildlife?

When I was 3 years old, I told my mom I wanted to be a “zoologist veterinarian.”  Does that count?  🙂  As an adult, I was 24 years old when I made the shift from domestic animals to wildlife.

  1. What is an animal you dream to work with?

This is impossible to answer!  There are so many – megabats and sloths come to mind.  European badgers!  I think with the fires in Australia right now, I have the animals there in my brain, like many of us do.

  1. Do you work with other rehabbers or do you work independently?

​I am the director of an organization (Nebraska Wildlife Rehab), so I work with an amazing, dedicated group of staff and volunteers who care for wildlife under our umbrella.

  1. Do you work with all species, if no, which groups of animals do you concentrate on?

We rehabilitate all species that are legal in the state of Nebraska except for raptors, which we refer to Raptor Recovery Nebraska.  Nebraska does not allow the rehabilitation of hoofstock, skunks, or carnivores larger than bobcats.  We care for a large number of insectivorous bats (over 400 every year) so I focus on them more than other rehabilitators might.

  1. Do you have any pets?

YES.  I live with my 2 dogs, 5 cats, and one rescue hamster named “Princess Plumpkin.”

  1. What are some of your hobbies?

My favorite free-time activity is hiking and I sneak camping in with that hiking whenever I can.  Indoors I periodically practice imperfect knitting and I enjoy foreign languages and cooking.  I also live for travelling, whenever I can find the time.

  1. Do you volunteer for other organizations?

Yes, although not as much as I used to.  I volunteer for Feline Friendz of Nebraska and the Institute for Holocaust Education when I can, and am not very good at the “‘no’ word” so am susceptible to whomever asks.

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world specifically for wildlife sighting, where would you go?

South/southeast Africa and Madagascar; the Amazon — I think both places (or the dream of them) hook young people on the idea of wildlife conservation, as they did me, and both places still drive my future travel goals.  That being said, I’d love to return to Israel during a bird migration, and I never turn down spring in the northern Rockies. No matter where I go, I think there’s always an opportunity for wildlife viewing!