For anyone who has agonized over how to help an injured squirrel or a baby bird that has fallen from a nest, the Wildlife Care Association offers an answer.
The nonprofit organization based at McClellan Park in the North Highlands area rescues and rehabilitates wild animals that are injured, sick or orphaned, with the goal of returning them to the wild.
The Sacramento region is home to a wide variety of birds and other wild animals, said Anysia Avila, the association’s animal care manager.
“We’re here as a resource where they can be cared for properly and have the best chance of getting them back out there in the wild,” she said.
Established in 1975, the organization, staffed largely by volunteers, receives and cares for more than 6,000 animals a year. The majority are birds, Avila said, but the facility also receives a large number of squirrels, as well a possums, raccoons, coyotes and even skunks.
The association is permitted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to care for wild animals. The permits require that rehabilitated animals be released within 10 miles of where they were found. Particularly with adult animals, efforts are made to release them as close as possible to the areas they previously frequented, Avila said.
During its busiest season, typically April through September or October, the association cares for thousands for baby birds, with volunteers in the nursery tending to them around the clock. During the winter, Avila said, it receives more adult birds. Many are raptors, or birds of prey, that have been struck by vehicles.
This year, she said, there have been more cases of poisoning among raptors. The birds typically have eaten mice or other rodents that have been poisoned. The center has had success treating the birds with a more than 20-day regimen of medication, but sometimes, Avila said, the effects of the poison can’t be reversed.
In addition to caring for animals at its McClellan facility, the association works with a number of volunteer rehabbers who care for animals at their homes.
The association employees two full-time staff members year-round, and eight to 10 during the busy season. Much of the work is done by 150 to 250 volunteers, who clean enclosures and provide day-to-day care for the animals.
Judy Verhaag has been a volunteer for 12 years, since retiring from her job as legislative director for the California Water Resources Board. Verhaag said she read a story about the Wildlife Care Association in The Sacramento Bee and was inspired by a couple with disabilities who were rehabbing injured animals.
Verhaag is among volunteers who staff the association’s hotline. She instructs people how to care for the animal and bring it to the care center. She has asked Book of Dreams readers to donate funds to help purchase a variety of goods to aid the association, including dry cat and dog kibble, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, eggs, mealworms and more.
Monetary donations will also allow the association to build new areas to house a wider range of species, as well as provide staff members to care for them, Avila said.
More information about the Wildlife Care Association is available at www.wildlifecareassociation.com. Intake hours at the care facility, at 5211 Patrol Road, McClellan, are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To reach the hotline, call 916-965-9453.
Need: Funds to buy a variety of goods to aid the Wildlife Care Association, a nonprofit community service volunteer-based organization.