A baby squirrel during feeding time. Photo supplied.

A baby squirrel during feeding time. Photo supplied.

MARS anticipating influx of orphaned animals in the Comox Valley

Spring is the non-profit wildlife rescue society’s busiest time of the year

The emergence of spring in the Comox Valley will bring an influx of orphaned animals to the Mountainaire Aviation Rescue Society (MARS).

May 1 marks the beginning of what the Merville-based animal rescue centre calls “baby season.” With warmer weather, the society is bracing for a busy few months of nursing newborns back to health and is asking for help and donations from the public as a result.

“It’s pretty typical for us to see a big increase in patients [in the spring],” said MARS wildlife rescue co-ordinator Reg Westcott.

He added that the need for public help will be greatest in the next six weeks. Baby birds will be the first to arrive, followed by newborn fawns and other mammals in early June.

The influx of baby orphans during the spring is the result of many factors, according to Westcott. He mentioned how increased human development and construction at this time of year can cause birds to lose their habitats.

At the same time, deer killed by traffic can lead to orphaned fawns.

“With human activity comes inadvertent death to wildlife quite often and separation of babies from their parents,” said Westcott.

The increased number of animals to care for will also bring added costs. According to Westcott, the cost of mice needed to feed baby owls has increased 40 per cent this year, while goats’ milk for fawns and other animals can cost MARS up to $500 per week.

Read More: Goat milk a lifesaver for recovering fawns

“Baby owls can eat 10 mice a day while they are growing and it can’t just be any old mouse,” reads a statement from MARS. “The MARS team has to ensure that mice are free of disease and household poisons. One baby owl will cost $14 a day to feed.”

Donations can also be made online at marswildliferescue.com, canadahelps.org or at any Comox Valley branch of Coastal Community Credit Union.

Not your usual baby shower

MARS will host its AGM on May 12 at 1 p.m. at the Black Creek Community Centre. An open house and “baby shower” will follow the AGM from 3 to 5 p.m at the non-profit’s new rehabilitation facility at 1331 Williams Beach Road in Merville.

Westcott says the event will provide guests an opportunity to see what MARS has planned for the future while meeting the organization’s ambassadors — owls and raptors whose injuries or circumstances mean that they cannot be released back into the wild.

“This is something new for us and it’s on a new piece of property as well,” he said. “Now we have our own piece of land that is a bit bigger… we can have events up there.”

Guests are asked to provide a donation to help the orphans.