Wildlife center gives animals second chance

Published 5:47 pm Monday, April 27, 2009

When storms flood the county with rain, they also tend to flood the Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center with wounded or homeless animals.

“Most folks just simply don’t have the resources and the basic knowledge as to what they need,” said Sandra Allinson, director of rehabilitation and education. “It is very difficult for the average individual to provide for an orphan. Just a couple of hours of improper care can mean the difference between life and death for them.”

The center took in a total of 170 animals just after storms swept through Central Alabama in early April.

An influx of needy animals that large puts a huge strain on the manpower and funds. It becomes even more difficult considering Alabama is in the middle of baby season, Allinson said, when mammals and fowl alike are nesting and producing newborns.

Unfortunately, not all of the animals brought to the center survive. Staff and volunteers do everything they can to see that many of them are eventually released back into their natural habitat.

“We have to make sure we provide them with the natural foods they need –– the same stuff they would find in the wild,” said mammal coordinator Ana Harris. “Even though they are cute and fuzzy and little, we have to make sure we have as minimal contact with them so they remain wild.”

Allinson said they bring in two interns during the summer to help support the staff. The center also hosts trainings once every month to bring in new volunteers who might be able to help the center continue its mission.

“It’s extremely demanding on the staff and we simply can’t do it without the help of trained volunteers,” Allinson said. “It’s not just animal care … we need volunteers willing to help in other areas such as cage construction, carpentry and plumbing.”

The center keeps a running list of about 200 volunteers but has only about 75 actively involved participants. The center constantly needs more to help Alabama’s wildlife remain vibrant and healthy.