The summer months were bustling with activity at the B.C. SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin.
In fact, it was a record-breaking season for the operation, with 30 per cent more injured animals arriving compared to last year. The last of those patients are being re-released into the wild as the autumn leaves fall and staff expect the busyness to subside during the colder months.
“It is ramping down,” said Wild ARC manager Kari Marks. “It gives us a bit of a break.”
But staff at the rehabilitation centre are still seeing their share of distressed patients.
This month is typically when many injured raptors, particularly owls, receive a helping hand at the centre. Marks said they treat about 80 owls in the course of a year, primarily over a four-month period beginning in October.
She attributes that to the fact many residents drive to and from work in the dark due to there being less daylight hours. These darker mornings and early evenings see nocturnal animals such as owls active at these times. They often like to hunt near roads, searching for small rodents such as mice and shrews. This conflicting timeline means these predator birds are at a higher risk of being struck by a vehicle.
“People don’t see them swooping around … and they are actively swooping around,” Marks said.
A great horned owl arrived at the rehabilitation centre last month in critical condition.
Weak and unable to stand, the owl received several weeks of medical treatment and supportive care. It now is able to perch upright and eat on its own.
“He’s fairly fatigued still,” Marks said. She added, however, the bird is in the Wild ARC’s flight pen getting some exercise. She said it’s hard to predict when they might release the owl back into the wild, but figured it would need another week or two of care.
That very morning, a barred owl arrived having been struck by a vehicle. Luckily, it was not as critically injured as the horned owl and is also expected to make a full recovery. “It’s a really great feeling to see them flying off into nature,” Marks said.
The two owls are expected to be part of the roughly 30 to 40 per cent of patients Wild ARC is able to rehabilitate and release back into the wild.
Unfortunately in many cases, an animal’s injuries are too severe and nothing can be done to save them. Marks said many animals are brought to them because they can humanely end their suffering. Which, in a way, is also helping them, she added.
For more information the Wild ARC, visit spca.bc.ca/branches/wild-arc/.
Mark your calendar
The B.C. SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre is hosting its annual Fall for Wildlife Dinner Auction at the Four Points by Victoria Sheraton Gateway Hotel on Nov. 14, from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets for the fundraiser are $80 each or $600 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets or find more information, go to bcspca.ca/fallforwildlife.