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New Interior wildlife rehab centre accepting patients

A family of yellow-bellied marmots take up refuge next to the W.R. Bennett Bridge in City Park.

A new Okanagan wildlife rehabilitation centre now has a rubber stamp from the province to begin accepting patients.

Since its foundation in 2020, the Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society has been building its new facility which is now ready to give wildlife patients a second chance, according to a press release from the society.

“We have finally been granted federal and provincial operating permits to accept patients into our care, now the Okanagan has a facility to rehabilitate wildlife for release,” said president and founder Eva Hartmann, in the news release.

READ MORE: Wildlife rehab centre for small animals proposed in Kelowna

Prior to the society’s operations, euthanasia or long-distance transport outside of the Okanagan Valley were the only options available for any wild species other than birds of prey, she said.

The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre in Oliver only takes raptors.

The B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops has the Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre that cares for birds, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. Its permit does not allow it to take in large mammals, some birds, eastern gray squirrels, raccoons or marmots, among others.

Raptors will continue to get care at SORCO in Oliver where large exercise flight pens and an onsite feeder-rodent breeding program have been long-established specifically for them.

The new rehab centre has built species-specific housing with various therapy pools for waterfowl, native turtles and other species living around the shores of Interior lakes and streams, according to the release.

“We can proudly say that we have passed our facility inspection conducted by government officials including B.C. wildlife veterinarian Caeley Thacker,” Hartmann said in the press release.

Hartmann is also a registered veterinary technician.

The mission of Interior Wildlife includes education and expert advice about human-wildlife interactions. Now the facility is open too, where nursing care will be provided to sick or injured wild animals with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitats.

The Okanagan is growing, human encroachment into natural areas which provide habitat, food and shelter for wildlife is making it harder and harder for wild animals to navigate and stay healthy and safe from injuries or displacement, Hartmann said in the press release.

Canadian native species are protected under the B.C. Wildlife Act as well as the Migratory Bird Act. It is illegal for the public to keep wildlife in their possession for more than 24 hours. The new facility will care for native small mammals and water birds. However, any invasive species as well as deer, moose and large carnivores are not part of rehab centre’s current permits.

If you believe to have found a wild small mammal or water bird in distress, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 to connect with a conservation officer for advice, or bring them to a veterinary clinic for assessment or consult a wildlife expert about excluding animals from unwanted areas in house or on private property.

The society is not accepting direct drop-offs from the public but once the animal is assessed and deemed a rehabilitation candidate by a professional, volunteers will transport the animal to IWRS’s care facility for admission.

The property is not open to the public as per permit restrictions and its exact location remains undisclosed within Summerland.

Find out more about Interior Wildlife by visiting its website.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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