Patient load ‘through the roof’ at Medicine River Wildlife Centre

Staff are hopping at Medicine River Wildlife Centre where patient load is consistently up by about 60 per cent so far this year.

Staff are hopping at Medicine River Wildlife Centre where patient load is consistently up by about 60 per cent so far this year.

Executive director Carol Kelly said at times the patient load at the wildlife hospital was double what was seen in 2015.

“We’ve had about 1,000 patients so far this year. And we only had 2,000 total last year. I can see the numbers hitting somewhere between the 2,000 and 3,000 range this year if we continue at this rate,” said Kelly on Wednesday.

“The demand is through the roof.”

She attributed the increase to an early summer that led to early breeding, nice weather that got more people outdoors and running into conflicts with wildlife, and more people knowing about the centre.

This month the staff member who deals with wildlife conflict has been called out 62 times, including two calls Wednesday morning.

“She’s out dealing with a poisoned coyote pup and something down a chimney in Didsbury. So we’re being called farther and farther away.”

Kelly said this time of the year she is on the phone between 80 and 90 times a day with people in need of advice or have an injured animal or bird.

“I think our numbers are up to about 10,000 phone calls a year.”

At 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, she received a call from a man who hit an owl while driving. She explained how to pick the owl off the road and how to bundle it up while waiting for someone from the centre to pick it up.

Unfortunately the owl died shortly after he wrapped it up and took it home, but the man still appreciated that someone answered his call, she said.

“He was just grateful there was someone there to talk to. We get a lot of that.”

Kelly said the centre is one of seven wildlife rehabilitation centres in Alberta. Calls usually start to climb in March and April when people begin finding baby animals.

“Everything comes in spurts. Right now it’s ducklings and baby birds. The fawn season has slowed down. We had a run of fawns for a couple of weeks.”

The wildlife centre, located west of Innisfail, works with injured and orphaned wildlife to allow them to return to their natural environment.

Even though the centre is known for helping wildlife, everything the centre does involves people, she said.

“Those birds that come to us and those baby fawns, they don’t come to us by themselves. They come attached to a person that wants some help.”

To find out more about Medicine River Wildlife Centre, visit www.mrwc.ca or call 403-728-3467.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com