Book of Dreams

Auburn volunteer rescue helps injured animals get back to the wild

In February, the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Auburn had a high-profile success story after helping a coyote with a plastic jar stuck on its head.

The young female coyote had been spotted by numerous people wandering the area for nearly two weeks — many of whom snapped pictures or took videos — before she was caught by intrepid volunteers who tracked and trapped her in a creek. After weeks of care, she recovered, alongside dozens of other creatures from the feathered to the furry that the organization takes in on a regular basis.

Gold Country founder Sallysue Stein said she and her group of 125 volunteers have fielded more than 7,500 calls and cared for more than 3,500 creatures so far this year, all with the hope of rehabilitating them for a return to their native habitats.

“We are not a sanctuary. We are not a zoo,” said Stein. “We need to get these animals back into the wild.”

Along with the coyote, Stein helped a raft of more than 260 ducks that came down with botulism after swimming in a contaminated man-made lake. Several owls came through the doors after smacking into the plate glass windows at the Roseville Auto Mall.

Recently, the facility, located across the street from the Placer County Animal Shelter off of Atwood Road, was housing a baby king snake with a back injury, kept warm in an incubator. Nearby were cages of recovering squirrels, opossums and some injured and abandoned pigeons.

Two adult ducks were swimming in a baby pool, under the close watch of volunteers. One was blinded by cataracts and the other, a mallard, has serious neurological problems resulting from either lead poisoning or blunt force trauma. He doesn’t have good head control, and has frequent spasms.

The facility also helps larger animals, including foxes and bobcats.

Now Stein is hoping to expand her operation to include outdoor caging to allow her to take in more animals, and give them more space. The rescue recently acquired a one-acre parcel where they hope the Book of Dreams can help them fund 38 new cages.

The complete modular wildlife housing complex would cost $100,000. The request here is for $10,000 to start.

Stein has roughed out a plan that would create at least five sections on land behind their current facility: one for barn owls, another for hawks, a two-sided complex for squirrels and opossums, a separate area for songbirds, and a three-sided section with spaces for larger mammals.

The nonprofit, which gets no government funding and relies on individual contributions, will build the cages as they get money. Each one costs $2,500.

“All caging has be built to specifications required by the (California) Department of Fish and Wildlife with cage sizes specific for every species,” said Stein. “Each one has to have double doors to prevent escape.”

They also must be rodent and predator proof, properly roofed, and built with wire underneath to prevent digging in or digging out, she said.

Stein said the expanded space is desperately needed because she sees more animals in distress each year.

“When I started the group in 1991, we took in about 200 animals,” she said.

As people expand their footprint into once-wild areas, more animals are affected by the loss of habitat. More people are living “in areas that were once the animals’ homes,” said Stein. The creatures are now coming into contact with humans, “their cars, their dogs, their cats, their fences, all of which harm the animals,” she said.

The new cages, said Stein, will give the injured creatures “a second chance at life in the wild.”

The request

Needed: Outdoor animal cages

Cost: Total requested is $10,000; seeking $2,500 for each.

This story has been changed to reflect a different requested amount. The organization needs a total of $100,000; the request here is for $10,000.

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