It’s been a busy summer for Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS) volunteers on the other end of the wildlife emergency hotline.
“This summer has been so busy. Our busiest day was the first day of summer; we had 46 calls to the hotline. It was crazy,” WRSOS director Bonnie Dell said.
Volunteers monitor the messages left on the hotline 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. When the hotline started in 2006, it received 177 calls. That number increased to nearly 3,000 calls last year.
Dell estimates the hotline will receive more than 3,500 calls in 2018.
Hotline volunteers help advise callers on how to handle situations involving wildlife, and if a local rehabilitator or veterinarian is required.
“We’re filling a really big gap in the community, where otherwise there would be no help,” Dell said.
Jan Shadick is the executive director at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. She also helped start the wildlife hotline, as a founding member of WRSOS.
“I knew that about 80 percent of our interactions with the public were going to be over the phone,” Shadick explained.
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“The hotline increases the number of animals that are coming in, because we have the volunteers that go out and pick animals up and bring them to us.”
Shadick said as hotline calls and the workload increases, it’s important to balance both with more financial and volunteer resources.
Other than two paid summer student employees, WRSOS relies on fundraising, donations, memberships and nearly 200 volunteers.
Shadick said the hotline is also a helpful tool in educating the public to leave the animals alone in their habitat, as animals are often displaying normal behaviour and don’t require help.