Medicine River Wildlife Centre will have heat to continue running this fall and winter while construction of its new animal hospital continues.
“It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be the most efficient, but it will be better than freezing here or having to shut down,” said executive director Carol Kelly on Tuesday.
She said a plumber will be putting together a coil heating system to operate in the three rooms that were once public spaces but have since been turned into the hospital during construction.
Kelly was worried the hospital would have to shut down while the centre fundraises to build its replacement hospital.
She said thankfully word spread and $70,000 was raised this year, and about $15,000 in gifts and in-kind donations.
“We’re getting up to the $100,000 mark. We’re hearing from people all over the province,” Kelly said.
A few community fundraising projects are also underway.
“We’re optimistic we’ll continue to move forward, and continue to build over the winter and have it set up in the spring.”
The $900,000 project includes a replacement building and new septic system. So far about $400,000 has been raised, with $250,000 to $300,000 in grants pending.
She said enough money has come in so that concrete and septic system work continues.
“We’ve got the concrete foundation in for the new wing and part of the old wing. The septic system is going in next week.
“I’m desperate to make sure (the walls) are up before the snow flies.”
Throughout construction, injured and sick animals in Central Alberta have still been treated at the centre.
So far this year, staff have seen about 1,500 patients.
Among them was a family of four-week-old baby squirrels found in logs that a man had purchased in Sundre this the summer.
“He was stacking them and he thought he heard a squeaking. He went investigating in the logs and he found one that had a hole in it. He very carefully cut it open to find a nest of baby squirrels.
“There were seven of them tucked down into the nest. They were quite dehydrated. We have three of the seven that have done well and they’re thriving.”
Right now, a lot of young hawks are coming in, she said.
“It’s the season where the hawks are leaving home and starting to get out into the world. They are teenage hawks and not real bright about the world, so they’re getting hit by vehicles and getting electrocuted.”
When staff are not treating or rescuing wildlife, they are advising people who call with wildlife issues.
“We’re having lots of calls about skunks moving into people’s yards and digging in for the winter. We’re dealing with all those calls.”
To find out more about Medicine River Wildlife Centre, visit www.mrwc.ca.