Whatcom Humane Society to take over wildlife rehab center

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 15, 2014 

Whatcom Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Services

Whatcom Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Services manager Alysha Elsby, left, and volunteer Amy Armstrong take a trumpeter swan back to its enclosure after a final examination, before its release on Saturday, at the Whatcom Humane Society Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Deming. Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (NWRC) will cease operations. The Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) will assume operation of the wildlife rehabilitation center located off Mount Baker Highway.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

The Whatcom Humane Society will have new kinds of wild critters on its hands, as the organization is taking over for the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center effective Saturday, Feb. 15.

The Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center ceased operations Friday, citing an increase in orphaned and injured wild animals that put a financial strain on the nonprofit agency, which worked to rehabilitate the animals and release them back into their native habitat.

The rehabilitation center, established in 2000, received more than 1,100 wild animals last year, according to the humane society.

The humane society is taking over the lease for the center's building, located at Nugents Corner near Everson. The building is owned by the Whatcom County Parks Department and is already permitted as a wildlife rehab center.

Whatcom Humane Society Executive Director Laura Clark described the decision to take over after the center's closure as a "no-brainer" because of the lack of other options for care and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wild animals in the county.

"We feel very strongly that the Whatcom Humane Society had a moral and ethical obligation to step up and provide this service," Clark said.

The humane society has hired the center's licensed wildlife rehabilitator, who will remain on staff to manage the department. Clark also hopes to tap into the center's volunteer base to help run the facility, along with humane society administration and veterinarians.

"It's going to pose a challenge, but we feel we're in a really good position to be able to tackle that challenge," Clark said. "Our infrastructure will allow us to be able to provide the service and stretch our limited funds."

In addition to animal rehabilitation, Clark also wants to focus on educating people about how to safely interact and manage conflicts with wild animals.

"As Whatcom County continues to grow in a human way, we're causing more and more issues for native wildlife," she said. "It's very important that there's somebody providing this service and educating residents out there."

Clark hopes the change will be good for the animals and for the community, providing a single source of help for issues with wild and domestic animals.

"We're really excited and humbled by the opportunity and the challenge," she said. "They can call us for anything they need animal related and we should be able to help them out."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

More information about the Whatcom Humane Society is available at whatcomhumane.org. The humane society's new wildlife facility can be reached at 360-966-8845.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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