May 2015 Jefferson Award: Mark Naniot - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

May 2015 Jefferson Award: Mark Naniot

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RHINELANDER (WAOW) - It was a routine day at Wild Instincts. Someone dropped off three baby raccoons, their eyes not yet open.

"A lot of the animals would perish if there wasn't a facility like this," said Mark Naniot, Wild Instinct's rehabilitation director. "I am sure they are very hungry."

Naniot and his wife opened the non-profit animal hospital in the Town of Newbold four years ago.

 "Most of the injuries are human caused, from birds hitting windows to being hit by cars to lead poisoning from for eagles and loons. So since humans broke it, we feel like we can fix it. And that is why we are here," Naniot said.

He says about 600 animals end up at the center each year.

Seven eagles have arrived so far this year. Nearly all suffering from lead poisoning.

The work is never-ending, Naniot said.

"We put in 15- to 16-hour days seven days a week. My last day off was four years ago in November and I haven't had a day off since then," said Naniot.

But he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Every day I come in happy and whistling and enjoying what I am doing," Naniot said.

Intern Tawny Liebe has a degree in wildlife ecology and hopes to find full-time work at a rehab center.

She calls Naniot an inspiration.

"He is a great teacher. He knows a lot about rehabilitation. He has done this for a long time and teaches all over the country," Liebe said.

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