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Help for Injured Wildlife in North Carolina

PHOTO: Barred Owl housed at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute, Picture provided by Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute
PHOTO: Barred Owl housed at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute, Picture provided by Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute
July 30, 2012

BANNER ELK, N.C. - Over the weekend, dozens of wild animals and birds were brought in to rescue shelters suffering injuries they received from being caught in the busy mesh of human activity. It's particularly a problem in western North Carolina, say animal rehabilitators, where the large amount of wildlife is matched with an equally large number of tourists and residents enjoying what the region has to offer.

Animals hit by cars or harmed by household pets are brought in regularly to places like the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. Many of the injured creatures are birds, and the only place the center's animal naturalist, Savannah Trantham, has to take them is the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute in Banner Elk.

"If they didn't take them for us, we wouldn't have a place to place them or we would have to not accept them from the public: then that means the public would have to figure out what to do with them."

This month the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute moved into a new facility that will provide separate rooms for the kinds of animals they serve, an ICU for severely-injured wildlife, and a public viewing area so visitors can observe and learn about native species in the area.

The new Dan and Dianna May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College is larger than the old trailers that previously housed the institute. It also provides an opportunity for students at the college to receive hands-on training in animal rescue.

Center Director Nina Fischesser says providing a place for people to do the right thing with an injured animal is part of a larger picture.

"This goes much wider than just a single person having compassion. People identify with an animal, identify with all animals able to suffer, and are wanting to help them."

Fischesser adds that she hopes people realize there is a place to take injured birds, groundhogs and other wildlife rather than leaving them to suffer with their injuries in the wild.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC