May is a busy month for animal rehabilitation centres in Alberta and baby animals who can’t quite make it in the wild yet need some help.
That’s exactly what Erin Casper and her team at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) focus on throughout the spring.
The rehabilitation centre takes in injured and orphaned animals with the goal of releasing them back into the wild once they’re healthy.
At the start of spring, hares are the most common patients they see, sometimes taking in more than 20 a day.
Casper explained the two newest hares ended up at the centre through some unfortunate encounters with domesticated animals.
“One of them was caught by a cat,” said Casper. “The other one, unfortunately, his mother was killed by a dog.”
She also reminded people that even though it may be tempting to try and help an animal that looks abandoned, human intervention is not always needed.
“Parental care is different for all species,” Casper said. “With hares, we say if it looks okay, just leave it right there.”
Staff see more than 120 species come through the doors during spring.
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They look after several kinds of hawks and other birds of prey until they can hunt on their own.
Last season, the AIWC released a baby beaver that had been rehabbing for two years. They’ve also taken in some larger animals, including moose calves.
Casper said the institute always tries to release the animals back to the area they were found.
“We can keep the natural population in the same spaces,” said Casper. “We’re not introducing any new diseases or new types of species to other populations.”
The AIWC said the cost to rehab a single animal can range from $100 to $1,000 each.
In order to support the centre’s efforts to help as many animals as possible, AIWC is holding its 8th annual Wildlife Baby Shower, hoping to raise $15,000 by the end of May.