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New year means bigger digs for Salthaven wildlife rehabilitation centre

A beaver kit is held by a worker at Salthaven. The animal is just one of more than 1,500 critters Salthaven says it admits into its care every year. Courtesy Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre

After more than 15 years in its current Mount Brydges, Ont., location, officials with the wildlife rehabilitation and education centre Salthaven say the organization will be packing up shop and moving a short distance down the road in the spring to a new 25-acre property near Strathroy, Ont.

Salthaven, which cares for and rehabilitates some 1,500 injured, sick, or orphaned animals every year, has outgrown its current rental location and has been long overdue for an upgrade, said founder Brian Salt.

“We’re excited. This is going to open up a whole new era for Salthaven, both by way of expansion, and the way we do wildlife rehab,” Salt said Monday, noting 10 years ago, Salthaven took in 1,000 fewer animals than it does now.

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Salt said the organization has spent some 10 years saving up for a new space. “There’s been a little bit put aside every year. We’ve applied for grants, we’ve had donations made specifically to our building fund… it’s been a long process.”

The new property, the exact location of which is staying under wraps for now, came up and “had just about everything in it that we were looking for,” he said.

The next six months will see an existing building on the property renovated to meet the clinic’s needs, with the big move slated for the spring, just before baby season — Salthaven’s busiest time of the year.

“The property was previously owned by a horticulturalist who got his Ph.D. in Holland,” Salt said. “He experimented with trees and shrubbery, so some of the fauna that is there you won’t find anyplace else in the world.”

The previous owner has agreed to help coach volunteers in keeping the property in good shape. “It’s a little bit of Disneyland,” Salt said of the grounds. “You walk in, and just out of every corner, it’s ‘Oh, look at that!'”

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Salt said he expects animal admissions will increase 25 per cent once Salthaven moves to its new facility.

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More than 120 volunteers work at Salthaven caring for the animals, a majority of which are later returned to their natural habitat. The organization says it answers as many as 140 calls for help on a busy day.

In 2014, Salthaven opened “Salthaven West” in Regina, Sask.

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