Springtime brings an abundance of new animal babies to Rocky View County, meaning the busy season has officially arrived for the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC).
On May 1, AIWC launched its 11th annual Wildlife Baby Shower – a month-long fundraiser to support the Madden-based animal hospital and rehabilitation facility. As spring is the birthing season for many mammals and birds, the influx of wildlife babies means the staff at AIWC will have their hands full this spring and summer, to ensure injured or orphaned animals can have a future.
“Over the coming months, AIWC is going to be caring for over 1,000 animals and many of them are injured or orphaned wildlife babies,” explained Holly Lillie, the executive director of AIWC. “Animals are migrating back to the province, or they’re year-round residents and they’re starting to have young now that the weather is warmer and there are more food sources available.”
AIWC sees upwards of 150 different species admitted to the centre each year, about 75 per cent of which are birds and owls. Mammals comprise the remaining 25 per cent, including the likes of moose calves, bear cubs, foxes, and deer.
The vast majority of wildlife that arrive at AIWC are orphaned or injured due to human activity or behaviour, according to Lillie.
“That can be hitting a window, barbed wire, being hit by a car, or a cat or dog attack,” she said. “These are not natural occurrences or natural predation or anything like that. We do feel our responsibility for wildlife is such that we need to be caring for them, especially if humans are the typical culprits for why they’re coming in.”
Lillie noted that in an ideal world, wildlife centres like AIWC would not need to exist, but that’s unfortunately not the case. In order to preserve Alberta's wildlife, she said AIWC is committed to rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing animals that become injured or orphaned.
“We’re very fortunate to live in Alberta and have the abundance of wildlife we have here – there are very few places left in the world that do have this variety – so I think we need to do everything we can to protect Alberta’s wildlife,” she said.
AIWC's goal for this year's wildlife baby shower fundraiser is $20,000 by May 31, a total Lillie said the charity surpassed last May. She added donations from the public will be used to support the centre's efforts in all areas.
It can cost anywhere from $100 to well over $1,000 to care for an individual animal, Lillie added.
“We’re just asking for the public’s help in anyway they can,” she said. “Every dollar does help, so if they’re able to donate, we are asking them to go to our website at aiwc.ca.”
Anyone with questions about AIWC is encouraged to call the animal hospital's hot line at 403-946-2361 or visit the non-profit's website.
“We truly believe our responsibility to wildlife includes an educational component as well,” Lillie added. “Our mission is that we’re committed to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned wildlife, but we also provide expert advice and education that fosters an appreciation of wildlife.”