A Voice for Wildlife: Volunteer Wildlife Solutions Counselors

by Vicky Medley, former Volunteer Manager, and Roberta Jortner, Volunteer

Thousands of community members reach out to Bird Alliance of Oregon each year with questions like “How can I help the goslings trapped on my roof? What can I do about the skunk under my porch?” Answering those questions is the job of a special team of volunteers: the Wildlife Solutions Counselors, who guide callers through the steps to humanely resolve wildlife conflicts. Our Solutions Counselor volunteers serve 365 days a year as a voice for wildlife, providing the public with the information, tools, and support they need to live in harmony with wildlife.

A photo of our Wildlife Care Center taken from the parking lot. It also shows the covered walkway that goes in front of our Admin building.

Anyone could answer the phone and provide our address and some simple instructions about where to take an injured bird or animal. But the Solutions Counselor role goes far beyond that. “The heart of the job is both supporting and providing guidance to those in crisis,” says Solutions Counselor Roberta Jortner. “As humans encroach further into wildlife habitat, we will continue to see increases in human-wildlife conflicts and the need to solve issues without harming wildlife.”

The calls come in many furry, scaly, and feathered forms. The most common are about cats attacking or killing birds and about birds hitting windows but frequently include calls to help raptors injured in vehicle collisions, baby birds that are orphaned or have fallen out of the nest, or birds trapped in buildings. Many callers also reach out with questions about living in harmony with wildlife. They may not be in a crisis at the time of the call, but they are growing frustrated with the Great Blue Heron eating the koi in their pond, or the squirrels that have taken up residence in their attic.

Our Solutions Counselors work with callers to not just resolve the situation at hand, but to also collaborate on ways to prevent the episode from reoccurring. “Providing medical attention to injured animals is a crucial part of the process, and it gets the lion’s share of the attention. But the most impactful work is done by our Solutions Counselors, who save thousands more animals than we will ever know about by helping callers take action and avoid causing harm in the first place,” says Stephanie Herman, Wildlife Care Center Manager.

Our callers often openly share their gratitude for having someone to talk to and for the Wildlife Care Center services that help our native wildlife survive. And our Solutions Counselors have the rewarding opportunity to meet rescuers face-to-face when they first bring a bird or other animal to the Care Center, or when an animal recovers and is ready for release. A happy moment for all!

Would you like to join our volunteer team of Wildlife Solutions Counselors? Our volunteer Counselors commit to one weekly four-hour shift for six months, though many choose to work with us for much longer. The shifts are 8:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. or 12:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m., same day and time each week. Our Care Center is open seven days a week!

If you enjoy problem solving, learning about wildlife, and educating the public, this is an excellent volunteer opportunity. You don’t need to be a master naturalist or already know the answers to wildlife questions—our robust training and mentorship program will give you a solid foundation. To learn more about joining our team of volunteer Solutions Counselors, check out the Volunteer tab of our website or reach out to our Volunteer Manager, volunteers@birdallianceoregon.org