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'They really do need our help': Reaching out to assist orphaned wildlife


It's the busy season for people who care for injured and orphaned wildlife

Spring is baby season for all the wildlife that live in southern Alberta. But many of those babies are surrendered to the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) after they're orphaned because they won't survive without some human help.

"They really do need our help and especially babies, if you think of just even human babies, how dependent they are," said Holly Lillie, AWIC executive director.

Staff at the facility near Madden northwest of Calgary have treated more than 300 animals in May and are currently caring for 80. Lillie said historically they receive more than 1,000 in June alone and it's expensive to rehabilitate an individual animal.

"These animals come in and very rarely is there nothing wrong with them," said Lillie. "They're having surgeries or wound care and things like that and then just even the specialized milk formula that they're feeding."

AIWC is a non-profit organization funded through government grants and private donations. It's just wrapping up its latest fundraising drive through the 11th annual Wildlife Baby Shower.

Lillie said every dollar helps.

"All of the milk formulas that we get, we order it from a place in the (United) States that has species specific formula," she said. "So all the costs add up so it can be anywhere from $100 to well over $1,000 to care for an animal in need."


Michele Murphy is one of eight summer students helping staff at AIWC for the next two months. She is constantly feeding various babies and cleaning their cages. First she bottle feeds a fawn, then three baby red squirrels, and next a least weasel.

"The fawn was actually unfortunately taken away from the mother without being injured so we don't really know where she came from," she said. "We do have to bottle feed her until she's old enough to feed herself but hopefully if everything goes right, we'll be able to release her back into the wild."

Lillie said animals are often injured or orphaned because of human activities like window strikes, vehicle collisions, barbed wire, domestic cat and dog attacks and even kidnapping when people take a healthy baby animal from the wild.

"It's expensive, but we look at it that 95 per cent of the injuries that we see are the causes for admission are human-related in some way," said Lillie. "So they've been hit by a car or hit a window or mum has been killed so we really do feel it's our duty to be caring for these animals."

Learn more about the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation here: Top Stories

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