If what’s happening at MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre in Merville is any indication, animal rescue groups across British Columbia will be busy this year.
According to MARS, staff cared for 1,100 animals last year, a 41 per cent increase over 2019 and the first three and a half months of this year has been well above average.
“Today we’re up to 254 so quite a few more than usual for us and last year was a record year, the year before that was a record year,” said Gyl Anderson, manager of wildlife rehabilitation at the centre.
One patient currently being rehabbed is a bald eagle that someone had to surrender after finding it injured.
“He did want to keep it in captivity in his home and so he basically wanted to keep it as a pet,” said Anderson. “That is a very common problem with wildlife, when people find injured animals they often get very attached and want to keep them as pets.”
“When it comes to an injured animal you can’t keep it. You need a special permit to keep a wild animal,” echoed MARS president, Warren Warttig.
MARS is anticipating an influx of fawns this year as it will be the destination for young deer from around Vancouver Island if they are found injured or in distress. As a result, two large pens are currently being built specifically for fawns on the Merville property.
International students are usually a big part of the animal care at MARS but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they can’t come to work.
“We’re having trouble finding people because normally they do come from all over internationally to spend time with us and care for the wildlife,” said Anderson.
Local volunteers are relied on heavily for animal care and cleaning. People who can commit to a couple of hours a week are encouraged to contact MARS at 250-337-2021.