The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Mending wings

By Linah Mohammad/se news editor

SE wildlife taken care of by groundskeeper 

SE Campus students looking though the library’s picture window will notice various types of wildlife including rabbits, doves, cardinals, butterflies and bees.

Often, though, they don’t realize who takes care of them.

SE lead groundskeeper Marc Villanueva not only rescues wildlife, but he also cares for the Butterfly Waystation as well as the bees on campus.  Photos by Katelyn Townsend/The Collegian
SE lead groundskeeper Marc Villanueva not only rescues wildlife, but he also cares for the Butterfly Waystation as well as the bees on campus.
Photos by Katelyn Townsend/The Collegian

SE lead groundskeeper Marc Villanueva has been tending to the wildlife on SE since his first day on the job four years ago, from birds to snakes.

Villanueva recently rescued an owl that was in the main entrance’s arch.

“I do that every year,” he said. “Ever since I started working here, I started noticing a lot of droppings by the main entrance. I came out and washed them every day.”

According to Villanueva, the parent owl nests in the arch. When her eggs hatch and she doesn’t bring them enough food, they get hungry. They see the rabbits, and they try to catch them. Then, they can’t fly back up.

“I find them out here, they can’t fly and I don’t want them getting hit by a car,” he said. “The last one I found was out here in the parking lot. I took a blanket and I put it over it, then I put them in a box. After I put my gloves on, I handled it. I still have scars from the last one I caught even though I was wearing gloves.”

Kathy Rogers, the director of Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hutchins where Villanueva takes the owls and some birds every year, has said that he is kind and caring.

“Otherwise, he wouldn’t bring them to us,” she said. “If he doesn’t bring them, they’d die, they’d be killed. We raise the owls until they can hunt on their own. Then we release them back into the wild where they belong.”

Rescuing the owls is only a small part of what Villanueva does. He also helps with a huge part of the SE experience — the rabbits.

“In the summer when it gets too hot, the rabbits will lay out on the ground to cool off. Students can see that through the library. It’s so funny!” he said. “But whenever we see patches of grass, more than likely there are bunnies in there. They usually don’t dig out in the open fields. They dig mostly by the building or in the flower beds.”

Villanueva cautions his employees to watch for such indicators when mowing the lawns. If not, the bunnies could get injured or they could run away.

“We have little carts, and I tell the guys, ‘Don’t ever chase a rabbit, don’t try to hurt the rabbits and you can’t hunt the rabbits,’” he said. “We had one guy who said, ‘Oh! They’d be pretty good to eat!’ and I was like, ‘Not our rabbits.’”

SE wildlife includes turtles, skunks, snakes and birds.

“We also have turtles that come every year to lay their eggs,” he said. “Since TCC has made the new road that goes out to [State Highway] 360, turtles can crawl onto the road, but somehow or another they can’t get up the curb. So we have to grab the turtles, and we help them up. We get calls all the time, and it’s wonderful that the staff and the students call building services and say that there’s a turtle on the road.”

Among the many things Villanueva does is put up birdhouses to feed the red cardinals, rescue stray cats and dogs and return the skunks he finds on campus back into the woods south of campus.

“One of the things I tell the guys here is, ‘If you see a snake, don’t bother it,’” he said. “Most of the snakes we have here are not poisonous. They catch rodents. More than likely, they’re not going to harm us. They are more afraid of us than we are of them.”

Lynnette Henshaw, SE building services administrative office assistant, said Villanueva constantly shares pictures of different animals he finds on campus with her.

“We both have a love for animals and a desire to see them survive,” she said. “He does way beyond his job description.”

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