A wild animal rescue organization that is the only one of its kind serving the area of Edmonton and northern Alberta has reached situation critical.
WILDNorth Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation is seeing a surge in animals but doesn’t have enough funds to rescue and treat them all.
“Typically, we get about 2,500 animals a year,” manager Dale Gienow said. “This year, we’re up 20 per cent. We’re due to intake over 3,000 animals in 2017, which is a huge increase for us.
“We’re a community-based organization that really depends on help from the community to bring these animals into us. But along with receiving the animals, we also need financial support for all these new animals.”
The 20 per cent increase in animals means about $50,000 more in expenses for the non-profit organization, which runs on a shoe-string budget in the best of times.
“It’s always a struggle,” Gienow said.
The group’s annual budget is $500,000; half of which is dedicated to an animal care program.
The goal is to help any animal that arrives at the facility but without public support, that may not be possible.
“So, we’re really hoping the community will come together and help us in looking after all these extra animals we’re receiving,” Gienow said.
In Ontario, there are as many as 80 wildlife rehab centres. But in Alberta, there are eight. The province doesn’t have funding set up for these types of organizations. Before these wildlife societies existed, injured wild animals found by people were often euthanized.
The rescue has already fielded more than 7,000 calls to its wildlife hotline this year, which is a massive increase over 2016.
“This has to be a community effort. I think people, if they want to have these lovely, wild neighbours and they want to live in harmony with our wildlife, they need to support these organizations. We’re the only group in Edmonton, in all of northern Alberta, the only full-scope wildlife rehabilitation centre, the only one that’s going to go out and actually address some of these issues with wildlife.”
Meanwhile, Gienow says he’ll continue working with the province, hoping for support of any kind.
“We’re in desperate need of funds,” he said.
The alternative is just an unthinkable last resort.
“It’s our objective to take in these animals, do our best to rehabilitate them, get them back out into the wild and we certainly don’t want to turn people down and tell them we can’t rescue them.”