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Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue ‘struggling’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue affected by coronavirus pandemic
WATCH: Despite being an essential service, Durham's only wildlife rehabilitation centre says it has been unable to take in any more animals because of the pandemic.

Despite being an essential service, Durham’s only wildlife rehabilitation centre says it has been unable to take in any more animals because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Management is now asking for help to get the site back up and running.

There are about 100 animals that can’t be released back into the wild that call Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue home.

“For the most part it’s myself and maybe one or two volunteers caring for the animals,” said Stefanie MacEwan, the centre’s founder and a licensed wildlife custodian.

MacEwan, who opened the facility four years ago, says COVID-19 has forced her to temporarily close down the rehabilitation centre and stop accepting animals.

She says she has also had to lay off every staff member and release 95 per cent of the volunteers.

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“Unfortunately, we don’t receive any government funding. All of our revenue actually comes from our educational program, so when we go into schools or festivals and events, and right now everything has been cancelled until the end of the year,” said MacEwan.

Both Lauren Kimsa and Taylor Simon had jobs at the rescue.

They’ve stayed on to volunteer during this time.

“Even just feeding in the mornings, to get around to all the animals can take a few hours so we really do need the manpower,” said Kimsa.

“It honestly breaks my heart to see that we are struggling because the animals really do need our help,” said Simon.

Last year, Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue took in over 2,000 sick and injured animals but with the pandemic, that number is expected to be less than a quarter of that in 2020.

Despite being closed, MacEwan says she fields over 100 calls each day from people looking for help.

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“Providing them different websites, finding different wildlife centres for them to be able to reach out to, but the problem is it’s not just affecting our wildlife centre, it’s affecting wildlife centres all across the nation. It’s making it really difficult to place hundreds of animals every single day,” said MacEwan.

MacEwan says the cost of food alone is about $1,700 per month.

To help, she has launched a GoFundMe page with a $30,000 target. MacEwan says that sum would be enough for the wildlife rehabilitation centre to reopen.