It’s a smelly job but somebody has to do it.
In 2014, Medicine River Wildlife Centre staff removed 200 skunks from the City of Red Deer.
Every year, the centre responds to an average of 2,640 phone calls from Red Deerians about wildlife and receives about 528 patients from the city. In total, the centre receives 8,000 calls annually from around Central Alberta and has a patient load of about 1,600 animals each year. So about one-third of the total patient load comes from the city.
The centre, located near Spruce View, has been providing a range of services to the municipality for about 30 years.
Executive director Carol Kelly said more help is needed because of the increased demand for service. Last year, Alberta Animal Services handed over skunk calls to the centre because it was better equipped to deal with the potentially stinky situations.
In previous years, the centre and Alberta Animal Services shared the duties of trapping, euthanizing or relocating skunks with the wildlife centre.
In January, city council approved $25,000 in ongoing funding for the centre for the first time, as part of the 2015 operating budget.
Kelly said the new funding agreement was welcome news.
“We have grown with the amount of services that we have provided to the city over the years,” said Kelly. “We have done education programs in schools, taken part in trade shows and events. Of course, we have helped with injured or orphaned wildlife.”
A new community wildlife liaison staffer was hired to respond to problem wildlife calls last summer. Kelly said the centre is trying not to remove skunks but to teach homeowners how to create a wildlife-friendly yard.
“So they won’t attract the wrong species,” said Kelly. “We have a brochure called If you don’t want a skunk in your yard, stop inviting him. We’re not just there to take wildlife and move them. We’re there to educate so people can live with wildlife.”
The centre assists many organizations, such as the Red Deer and District SPCA, Whisker Rescue and Fish and Wildlife.
Provincial Fish and Wildlife staff also lend a hand when dealing with dangerous wildlife, such as bears or cougars, or with deer that have been hit by cars.
The Spruce View-based centre is renovating its hospital in order to help more animals, and give staff a better working and learning environment.
The centre is in the thick of fundraising roughly $400,000 for the project. Kelly said they are approaching corporate donors and developing a crowdfunding campaign.
Find out more at www.medicineriverwildlifecentre.ca.