Most years, the spring months bring a boom in patient intakes at Wild ARC (Animal Rehabilitation Centre), the BC SPCA’s Metchosin-based wildlife rescue centre.
Each spring the clinic typically takes in about 100 patients – handfuls of critically injured deer or raccoons struck by cars or nests full of baby birds or rabbits discovered in warehouses or busy job sites. But this year things are different.
As of April 8, the centre was caring for only 20 animals.
“It’s way slower than usual,” says Ginelle Smith, Wild ARC manager. “It shows that what we’re dealing with here is mostly human caused.”
Smith asks people to be cautious as they beginning gardening or doing yard work.
“There might be bunny nests, squirrel nests and bird nests … if you do come across something try not to touch them and give us a call immediately,” she said.
In the last few weeks, British Columbians – along with most of the world – received orders to stay inside and social distance to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
While fewer patients are coming in to Wild ARC, Smith says spring babies are being spotted earlier than usual. She can’t say for sure, since a number of factors determine wildlife reproductive timing, but Smith wonders if wildlife are having an easier time finding nesting sites in Greater Victoria.
“Maybe they are just finding areas where they feel safe to do it,” she said.
The non-profit rescue, while fully operational, is feeling the impact of the crisis like everyone else – staff are following physical distancing protocols and summer hiring is frozen.
“It’s good that we don’t [have as many patients] either because we don’t have the manpower,” Smith said, adding funding might feel the pinch too. “We’ve been instructed to cancel all fundraising until July.”
Wild ARC remains open for patient intake and pick up arrangements. The facility is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The BC SPCA cruelty report and wildlife support line is 1-855-622-7722. Wild Arc can be reached at 250-478-9453.
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