Otis the owl perches on the arm of Judy Boyd of the Medicine River Wildlife Centre during a fundraising visit to ATB Financial in Sylvan Lake last Wednesday. The centre is aiming to raise funds for a new wildlife hospital as soon as possible

Medicine River Wildlife Centre hospital needs funding to avoid closure

The Medicine River Wildlife Centre’s hospital is on the brink of being shut down due to a lack of funding for a new facility.

The Medicine River Wildlife Centre’s hospital is on the brink of being shut down due to a lack of funding for a new facility.

With the concrete floor and septic system already in place, walls and utilities are still needed for the facility, costing around $400,000, said executive director Carol Kelly.

The new facility will replace the old one in Red Deer County, and staff have raised $17,000 so far.

The hope is to get the building completed by winter, but if not, Kelly said there won’t be a place to take in wild animals needing care.

“We really need people’s help to get this building up,” she said.

Edmonton and Calgary have wildlife care facilities, but Kelly said most people won’t take the time to transport wildlife to a proper facility; instead they will resort to caring for them in their own home illegally and inappropriately.

“I honestly believe that people get busy with their own lives.” she said. “The facility has always been there and always says yes when there’s a problem. I think people may forget that we may need their help.”

Kelly anticipates almost 2,000 patients will need treatment this year, for over 200 species — something the old hospital was never designed to do.

The facility also hosts international students and local work experience students.

“We have all kinds of things that we are involved with throughout the community, and if we’re not able to provide our core services, it will be a real disappointment and a real inconvenience for the people of this area,” Kelly said.

Even though staff are often thanked for doing their jobs, Kelly is unsure if people realize the centre’s need for funding — or their own ability to help.

“I just don’t think they are taking it seriously that we really need a new building, because our current one is completely done,” she said.

The new facility will be much safer and greener, and will more efficiently provide environments suitable for wildlife rehabilitation, she added.

“We will be a self-contained, very green unit; the cage facilities will be much improved and we even have a room designed for a little mini hot tub for a loon to recover in.”

Information on donating to the new facility is available online at www.medicineriverwildlifecentre.ca.