The Southern Vancouver Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is on track for a record number of rescues this year.
With one month to go in 2021, the BC SPCA’s Wild ARC has already rescued 3,036 wild animals. That’s just 30 fewer than the 2017 record of 3,066, and already up from the roughly 2,800 animals rescued in each of the past three years.
Andrea Wallace, head of the center for wildlife welfare, says intakes have grown steadily since they opened in 1997. In 1998, the first full year of opening, Wallace says they welcomed 1,500 animals.
This year, the increase in the number of cases was mainly due to an outbreak of salmonella in pine siskin songbirds in January and February. Wallace says their normal intake nearly doubled in those two months.
“It’s common in the environment. It exists, it is out there, and sometimes we have outbreaks,” she says. Wallace adds that bird feeders make outbreaks much more likely. “They come into contact with each other there much more closely than they naturally would.”
Throughout the year, Wild ARC cared for 136 pine siskins, although Wallace doesn’t know if they all had salmonella.
Otherwise, Wallace says it’s been a pretty normal year. The majority of their patients were birds, with a few mammals and a few amphibians and reptiles. And, as usual, the vast majority of rescues were the result of human activity – birds slammed into windows, vehicles struck animals, and pets attacked wildlife.
In an average year, Wallace says 80% of their intake is human-related. With the escalation of human activities in climate change, it is possible that this percentage will increase even more in the coming years.
Wallace says the recent flooding in British Columbia hasn’t had much of an impact on their admission numbers because southern Vancouver Island hasn’t been particularly affected and most of the animals might just move on, but that summer heat wave has sent quite a few animals with heat stress.
She says Wild ARC’s goal is to continue educating people on how best to co-exist with wild animals. Eventually, they hope that facilities like theirs won’t be needed.
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