Buy me dinner? BC SPCA Wild ARC patients need love, too
February 1, 2017
About to be released back into the wild, the four raccoons are instantly curious, their dexterous black paws thrust through the carrier cages doors to touch their new surroundings before the doors are opened, inquisitive bright eyes peeking out from their masked faces. Admitted to the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Recovery Centre (ARC) on Vancouver Island last June as babies, the orphaned youngsters needed several months of care before being released back into the wild on Sept. 25.
“These are just four of the 87 raccoons we released from Wild ARC last year,” says Wild ARC assistant manager Heather Schmitt. “Typically, baby raccoons come into Wild ARC’s care when their mom has been illegally trapped and translocated, or their den site has been disturbed and the mother has not returned to move some or all of them to a new den site. Sometimes, the mom has been hit by a car or otherwise killed and unable to care for them.”
Wild ARC, which is the only facility on Vancouver Island that takes in orphans from the entire region, helped a record-breaking 3,013 wild patients last year, from raccoon kits to deer fawns to baby hummingbirds, injured owls, river otters and many more.
Raccoon kits start to arrive in May and continue through the summer season, starting off indoors in the raccoon nursery, then moving to an outdoor enclosure where they can practice climbing, foraging and the social interaction skills they’ll need in the wild.
“We always limit human contact with our wild patients as much as possible to avoid habituation,” Schmitt notes, adding that extra care is taken to release the animals in natural sites that are far away from any human population and have adequate resources for them to survive.
As spring and baby animal season approaches, on the heels of Wild ARC’s busiest year yet, there are several ways to help support Wild ARC’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers, such as the ‘Buy me Dinner! Program, where people can donate $10 or more to help Wild ARC buy food and supplies to keep wild patients healthy and happy until their release back into nature. Tax receipts are issued monthly for donations of $10 or more.
“Wild animals need help too, and they often need help because of human interference in their natural habitat,” Schmitt says. “Every little but of support helps, and I think if our patients could talk, they would be extremely grateful.”
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.