While new COVID-19 restrictions have put a further halt to the plans of many Albertan organizations and businesses, the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) is as busy as ever as it heads into spring and summer.
To mark the start of its busiest time of the year, the Madden-based wildlife hospital and rehabilitation clinic will be hosting its 10th annual Wildlife Baby Shower crowdfunding campaign. The springtime campaign will raise funds for the baby wildlife the centre’s staff will be caring for and rehabilitating this year.
The spring is the busiest season of the year for AIWC, as it is when many wild animals give birth. According to Executive Director Holly Lillie, AIWC will be caring for more than 1,000 animals during the peak months, and the majority of those will be injured and orphaned wildlife babies.
“We’re not funded by the government – we rely solely on private donations and grants and we take care of over 2,000 animals every year,” said Lillie, adding donations go a long way toward supporting AIWC’s care for the baby animals that are admitted every day.
The goal of the virtual Wildlife Baby Shower event is to raise $20,000 by May 28 through both online and offline donations. Lillie said so far, AIWC has raised just over $12,000 toward their mission of raising awareness, rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing injured and orphaned animals back into the wild.
“We offer a public service and 95 per cent of the cases that we see are coming in as a result of human conflict in some way,” she said. “We really do feel like it’s essential that we provide this service and [continue to do so] throughout the pandemic.”
2020 was a record-setting year for AIWC, which cared for more than 2,040 animals in the first 11 months of the year – a 30 per cent increase compared to the same time period in 2019.
In addition to caring for and rehabilitating wildlife, AIWC offers wildlife education programs and an information hotline to help raise awareness about wildlife babies and their natural behaviour to prevent unnecessary admission to the hospital.
“We’re very lucky to be home to so many animals in the province and a lot of animals are going to be having babies right now and there’s natural behaviour in all of them,” Lillie said. “We want to spread awareness about what is normal and not normal.
“It's a combination of raising funds to care for the wildlife at our hospital, but also raising awareness so we can prevent any unnecessary kidnappings or animals coming into care that don’t need to,” she added.
According to Lillie, pre-pandemic, Alberta wildlife was a “fantastic tourism drive,” and the province's wide variety of animals is something worth protecting.
“[There are] over 587 species that call Alberta home – the wildlife call [Alberta] home so we really do want to preserve the legacy of wildlife in the province,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic service that we offer and we’re lucky to have the community support.”
Anyone who comes across injured or orphaned wildlife, or has questions, is asked to call AIWC’s wildlife hotline at 403-946-2361 or visit AIWC.ca
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