March 20, 2019 7:03 pm
Updated: March 20, 2019 8:46 pm

Global News gets rare, behind-the-scenes look at B.C. SPCA’s only wildlife rehab centre

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It is situated on a quiet, 10-acre forested piece of land just outside of Victoria.

“This location was selected just because of the natural beauty,” said Dr. Sara Dubois, the B.C. SPCA’s chief scientific officer. “Most of the cages face the forest to keep it the most naturalistic experience for the animals.”

Called Wild ARC, the wild animal rehabilitation centre is located in Metchosin, a small and rural community southwest of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Since it opened in 1997, Wild ARC has helped more than 45,000 wild animals including otters.

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Every year, the facility cares for more than 3,000 injured, displaced and orphaned wild animals — 140 different species overall.

“Anywhere from migratory sound birds like robins, woodpeckers, finches to water fowl,” wildlife rehabilitator Dana Lipka said. “Many different species of ducks, otters, gulls, raccoons, black-tailed deer, squirrels, quite a few different type of species.”

Since its inception in 1997, Wild ARC has cared for more than 45,000 local animals.

Birds, like this red-tailed hawk, account for about 70 per cent of the patients that end up at Wild ARC.

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“The entire area of Greater Victoria, Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. the only option for injured wild animals to have a second chance is to come to the facility,” Dubois said.

Wild ARC staff said the centre follows the same protocol as a human hospital.

“We take the patient in, we triage the patient, we determine and assess what exactly is wrong with the patient — so what kind of injury do we have here and how are we going to treat it,” Lipka said. We get a lot of hit-by-car injuries, hit-window type injuries, We look at a lot of different patients that come in with head traumas, wing fractures.”

Wild ARC, the B.C. SPCA’s only wildlife rehab centre in the province is located in Metchosin, just outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

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Of the roughly 3,000 animals that end up at Wild Arc, almost half are able to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

The remainder are either too injured or unable to survive on their own.

Dubois added that animals that do have to be euthanized are considered to be animals that the centre was able to help, because they no longer have to suffer.

“Many of these animals come in and they are to the point of injury, where they would have a horrible, prolonged death on the side of the road or being attacked by predators, being stressed. So if we can provide them with a humane end, then that in itself is a release from a painful life,” Dubois said.

In addition to Wild ARC staff, the wildlife rehab centre relies on more than 200 volunteers to keep the facility up and running.

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Wild ARC is only open to the public once a year and even then, visitors usually just get a tour of the facility and the grounds, so Global’s access was rare and somewhat exclusive.

“Because Wild ARC operates like a hospital, we can’t bring people behind the scenes on a frequent basis,” Dubois said. “The reality is that these animals need a stress free space to heal.”

Global Okanagan got a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the work done at Wild ARC.

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Wild ARC is the B.C. SPCA’s only wildlife rehab centre in the province and receives no government funding, relying solely on community donations.

Click here if you would like to donate to Wild ARC.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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