Bursting at the Seams

Posted | Categories: Animal care, Animal Rescue, Care Centre

Rufous Hummingbird 12-1838 outside_62012 turned out to be an incredible year at the WRA Care Centre. The number of animals treated at the WRA has been increasing for several years so we anticipated an increase in the number of animals admitted. But when the final numbers were tallied, we counted 4,071 animals, a dramatic increase of 23% from 2011.

Of that total, 87% were birds, 13% were mammals and the rest amphibians and reptiles. The number of species also increased and last year staff dealt with 174 different species. We saw some rare visitors such as an American dipper, blue grouse, hoary marmot, ancient murrelet, common poorwill, mountain bluebird, alligator lizard, red-naped sapsucker and a pied-billed grebe.

The salmonella outbreak affecting pine siskins at the beginning of the year was one of the factors contributing to the huge leap in numbers, and in total, the Care Centre admitted 204 compared to six the previous year.

The most common cause of injury was being hit by a car with 18% of the intake suffering from vehicle-related injuries. Birds hitting windows is another major concern, with 14% of the animals admitted for that reason. Ten per cent of the animals we saw were orphaned, and 9% the victim of a cat attack.

Most of our patients are in and out within a week or two but we had several long-stay patients in 2012. A skunk that arrived at the end of November with a plastic drinks lid around its neck was released after 81 days, and the pelican admitted at the end of December spent more than 60 days in care with injuries to its neck and pouch.

In the summer staff reared a three-day-old hummingbird to adulthood over a five-week period. It was the first time it had been done at the WRA and was one of our landmark success stories of 2012.

We are hoping that things are quieter in 2013 but we have plans in place to help us cope with a heavier workload, not just for the coming summer but for the coming years. We are training a team of Wildlife Helpline Volunteers to help cope with the number of calls that come flooding into the Wildlife Helpline during the summer months. This will help us provide advice to the public in a more timely manner, and allow us to coordinate the rescue of animals in distress more quickly.

We are also hoping to free up more space inside the Care Centre with the installation of a trailer to house the baby birds during the summer.

Without the support of a large team of volunteers who came in day after day and week after week to complete their shifts, the Care Centre would have ground to a halt. The WRA would like to thank every one of them for making 2012 a year to remember for all the right reasons.

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