The inhabitants of Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre in Abbotsford can be demanding little creatures.
They require constant feeding, medical checks and cage cleanings.
Just when Elizabeth Melnick and her helpers get through all the birds, bunnies, squirrels and opossums that need attention, they have to start all over again.
Melnick is on her feet seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight, just trying to stay caught up – and the phone keeps ringing.
She said in her three decades of running the wildlife centre, she’s never seen it so busy.
“You release them (back into the wild) but then you get a whole handful more. It’s chaos,” Melnick said.
The centre, located off Downes Road in central Abbotsford, is the only one of its kind in the Fraser Valley, and takes in abandoned, sick and injured small animals from areas that include Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope, Mission and Langley. (Critter Care in Langley does similar work, but handles larger animals such as bears, raccoons and deer.)
The creatures are nursed to health and then released back into the wild whenever possible.
Melnick said she is currently receiving about 25 new animals a day that come from circumstances such as their homes being destroyed by development, birds being wounded by cats, and ducks getting entangled in fishing line.
Melnick can’t bear to turn any creature away, even crows and pigeons.
“I just can’t bring myself to discriminate. Everybody has a place … I think they’re all majestic,” she said.
But these demands mean that Melnick could always use more help to keep the facility running. She said the clinic needs to be staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
She applied for government funding this year for eight full-time interns through the summer, but was approved for only three half-time spots and only until the first week of July.
But that’s when she expects another surge in animals brought to the centre, due to a new population of “babies” being born.
Melnick does have some volunteers, but it’s difficult to keep them and time-consuming to train new ones.
She relies mainly on donations to fund the expenses at the centre – about $130,000 in the last fiscal year – and this summer hopes to increase that funding in order to keep on her summer interns longer.
Those interested in making a donation can do so online at elizabethswildlifecenter.org. The centre also accepts donations of items such as puppy pads (for cage liners), bird seed, baby food, paper towels, Kleenex, garbage bags and dry cat/dog food.
Call 604-852-9173 for more information or to arrange drop-off. (Melnick prefers not to publish the address of the facility, because she doesn’t want people leaving animals there without first calling.)
Visit elizabethswildlifecenter.org for more information.