MADDEN, ALTA. -- Looks like the public health crisis isn't limited to humans.

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) has cared for a record 2,045 animals to date, an increase of 30 per cent over last year according to Holly Lillie, the executive director at AIWC.

“With people being close to home during the pandemic as well I think that’s had a big impact,” said Lillie. “So wildlife that may not have otherwise been found have been found this year.”

This year's patients include bear cubs, moose calves, deer fawns, owls, songbirds, and other representatives of Alberta's wildlife to the facility northwest of Calgary.

In May, two orphaned moose calves were brought in after their mother was killed by a vehicle.

“And they were very stressed and scared when they came in,” said Jenna Anthony, AIWC rehabilitation manager. “So we were concerned for capture myopathy with them and luckily they settled in nicely and have been doing extremely well.”

They were just two weeks old when they arrived and weighed 40 kilograms.   They’re referred to as ‘the twins’ and now weigh 272 kilograms each. The male and female are doing well and will spend the winter at the institute, before being released into the wild in the spring.

AIWC is a non-profit organization and not funded by the government. It relies solely on donations and grant operations. With over 600 more animals cared for in 2020 compared to 2019, AIWC is asking Albertans to consider AIWC in their Christmas giving.

“We’ve just launched our Give the Gift of Saving Wildlife campaign,” said Lillie. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we hope to raise $60,000 from now until the end of December.”

Lillie says the wildlife hospital typically does a lot with a little but food costs are high with more animals cared for this year.

“This year alone we spent $16,000 on meal worms which is huge,” said Lillie. “It’s crazy to think they would cost that much but it’s a substantial food source that we use here for a lot of different animals.”

Learn more about AIWC here: