Pitsfield Couple Wildlife’s Good Samaritans
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
When Dori and Charlie Koop grew up in Rockland County, it was rural. But as years went by and New York City’s suburbs expanded, it wasn’t anymore.
The Koops began looking for greener pastures.
One weekend, “we were out for a country drive,” said Dori. “We pulled up in front of this house and I said, that’s it.” The couple has lived in the clapboard house, on a country road a few miles east of New Berlin, since 1990.
They may have no children, but they’re not alone. Far from it.
At the time Dori was interviewed, one of the Koops’ temporary boarders was Lucky, clipped by a car Tuesday, Feb. 16, on Interstate 88 near Oneonta, and brought to the Koops’ by Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stalter, who – like Charlie Koop – is also a falconer.
Dori then ticked off a list all the other four-footed and feathered friends on the premises: “an owl out back,” another red-tail hawk, pigeons in a coop, 10 cats and dogs (all rescues), seven miniature horses, a Harris hawk Charlie uses for hunting, and a bird cage of doves.
“That’s for now,” said Dori, a nurse who had to retire due to on-the-job injuries. (“I’m still giving care,” she said.) You may have run across Charlie at Hannaford’s in Oneonta, where he is a meat cutter.
After six days of recuperation, the Koops drove Lucky to Ridell State Park at I-88’s Exit 17 (Route 28) to set him free. (Lucky would have eventually returned by himself.)
The Koops’ boarders will increase in a few weeks, when fawns arrive with the spring. For not only are the Koops animal lovers, 14 years ago they became animal rehabilitators, and they’re in big demand.
You can’t just hang out a shingle. The Koops are among a half-dozen assistants to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Kelly Bolton Martin of Middleburgh, Schoharie County.
Martin, who is currently president of the state Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, has a license from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to deal with migratory birds, and from the state DEC to deal with small mammals, raptors (owls, mostly) and waterfowl.
In addition to the Koops, other in-county assistants, which state law authorizes to operate under Martin’s license, are Suzanne Johnson in Laurens, Connie Paris in Mount Vision and Nick Tarricone in Oneonta.
While keeping in touch with Martin, they’re available to anyone who comes across an injured animal and is looking for help. The assistants depend on local vets’ expertise as well – the Kopps, on Leatherstocking Veterinary Service in New Berlin – and Cornell Wildlife Health Service in Ithaca.
“They’re awesome, in terms of letting me know what the prognosis is,” Martin said.
She had recently completed her end-of-year log for the DEC. “The total number of animals we handled was close to 300,” Martin said. “For an individual, I couldn’t do that.”