SPCA says need for wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan is huge | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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SPCA says need for wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan is huge

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Peter Sulzle
March 21, 2019 - 5:05 PM

OKANAGAN - If you find an injured bird, baby bear or other wild animal in the Okanagan, chances are you’re in for a bit of frustration and a lot of heartache.

That’s because there’s currently no rehabilitation centre for wild animals in the Okanagan. Who to call becomes a short list, and the options those places can give you even shorter.

The closest facility is the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops, but space is limited. The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) in Oliver takes raptors, but its capacity is also limited, and it only takes specific species. Sometimes, animals are flown to centres elsewhere in B.C., like the SPCA's Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) on Vancouver Island, but in many cases it falls on compassionate individuals to take them to the airport or drive them to the Lower Mainland, the B.C. SPCA’s chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois says.

When there’s nowhere for them to go — which is often the case — the best outcome for suffering animals is to be humanely euthanized by a veterinarian, but even that isn’t always available.

Dubois says the construction of a specialized wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan could change the outlook. 

“There’s hundreds of animals every year that die when they could be saved,” she says. “Within one operational year, we think we could help 1500 animals in the Okanagan and there could be many more.”

That estimate comes from inquiries to the SPCA’s call centre from people wanting to know where to take injured animals. Right now, Dubois says people assume the SPCA can help, and many try taking animals straight to the local branch only to find out those facilities aren’t equipped for wild animals.

“It’s pretty desperate,” Dubois says. “If you’re a person who finds that injured animal in the Okanagan, you’re going to be really stressed because you know the animal could be saved if it had a rehabilitation centre to go to.”

The B.C. SPCA is looking to fill the need by establishing a wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan, but it needs some help. The organization is looking for both land and financial partners to make the facility a reality.

“We want it to be somewhere that all of the Okanagan could be served and it would also need to be in a big enough city to have a volunteer base,” she says. “We have the knowledge and the expertise but we just can’t make it happen by ourselves.”

She says a property with existing barns and infrastructure could be retrofitted to suit the needs of a rehabilitation centre.

“The Okanagan has such diverse wildlife,” Dubois says. “There’s some amazing species we’d have the opportunity to help.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 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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