A Time for Reflection and Thanks

By Lacy Campbell, Wildlife Care Center operations manager

It can get really busy here at the Wildlife Care Center. As you know, we treat more than 3,000 animals per year and respond to more than 10,000 wildlife-related inquiries. But did you know that we only have two permanent staff members? In order for the Wildlife Care Center to operate on a daily basis we rely on more than 150 volunteers who put in over 22,000 hours this past year alone! Those hours actually account for over half of the time volunteers donate to the Bird Alliance of Oregon and are equivalent to 10 full-time staff.

Some of our volunteers have been here for just a few weeks and some have been working in the Wildlife Care Center for over 30 years! The dedication and support from our volunteers is the only way we could do what we do.

To give an example of the many amazing things our volunteers do, I will turn to a story from this year. One day during the busy summer months we received a phone call from someone who was lucky enough to have a Great Blue Heron rookery on their property. They were calling because they found a heron on the ground that they assumed had been abandoned by its parents. While it is normal for most fledgling birds to be found on the ground (their parents will still take care of them during this stage), with herons the parents will generally not feed them. One of our volunteers, Ginnie Ross, who is trained in wild animal capture and restraint, gathered her gear together and went out and met the community member.

By then the whole neighborhood was out wondering what was going to happen to this bird. Ginnie brought the bird back and Deb Sheaffer, our veterinarian, examined it. The bird was thin and weak from not eating. It had emerged from the nest early and had been abandoned. We kept the bird for treatment and to finish raising it. Concerned neighbors called almost every day to check on the status of the bird. Within a couple of weeks the bird was flying and killing live prey well. We found a great spot to release it close to the rookery, and Ginnie released it with members from the neighborhood.

The Wildlife Care Center depends on volunteers in the community as well. We have a number of community supporters – ranging from specialized veterinarians to whole organizations – that help us do the important work we do. Our community supporters include:

  • DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, which takes in wild animals after-hours
  • Multnomah County Animal Services
  • Portland Community College Veterinary Technology program
  • Ophthalmologist Dr. Susan Kirschner from Animal Eye Doctor
  • Terrie Corcoran and Schein Medical Supply Company
  • Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue Team
  • The Portland chapter of American Association of Zookeepers, which organized a Comedy Night event this year that benefited the Wildlife Care Center

It really does take everyone working together to help us save the things that matter most. And we couldn’t do it without all of our Wildlife Care Center volunteers and supporters — thank you!

Every year the Wildlife Care Center treats 3,000 injured or orphaned native animals. If you would like to make a donation to support our wildlife rehabilitation work at the Wildlife Care Center, click here.