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Wildlife institute looking for volunteers in 2014

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 02, 2014 11:53 am

Ruby the red-tailed hawk is one pretty lady. The raptor, or birds of prey with talons, was originally a falconers hunting bird but came to Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) to be an educational animal. Ruby is just one of the approximately 2,000 animals AIWC volunteers get the chance to help each year.
Ruby the red-tailed hawk is one pretty lady. The raptor, or birds of prey with talons, was originally a falconers hunting bird but came to Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) to be an educational animal. Ruby is just one of the approximately 2,000 animals AIWC volunteers get the chance to help each year.
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

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The Alberta Institute of Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) is looking for volunteers for the new year.

“Without volunteers we are definitely limited in what we do,” said Stacey Jespersen, AIWC wildlife rehabilitation technician.

She said the centre’s volunteers come from all walks of life but have two things in common, a love for wildlife and a desire to make a difference.

Jespersen said animal-handling experience is an asset for potential volunteers but added the organization does fully train their volunteers as well.

“We do make sure that people are comfortable with what they’re doing,” she said.

The centre is looking for volunteers to fill the roles of rescue drivers and centre volunteers.

Volunteers receive training on animal-handling and restraint techniques, biology, safety training and more before being paired with a senior volunteer for their first few shifts.

Centre volunteers work in the AIWC facility located in Madden, Alta., and assist the technicians with wildlife rehabilitation, cleaning and other chores requiring attention in the facility.

Rescue drivers are volunteers that go to rescue animals in distress, be it a home, clinic or open field.

“A lot of rescue driving is learning by experience,” Jespersen said, adding new volunteers benefit from riding with senior volunteers for their first few shifts.

The centre has about 25 animals in its care now and sees approximately 2,000 each year.

“You get to work with so many different types of animals,” she said, adding volunteers have the opportunity to gain tons of knowledge about Alberta’s wildlife.

Not only do volunteers get hands-on experience with wildlife, they get to participate in releasing the animal back into the wild.

“Volunteers make a real difference in an animal’s life,” she said.

Informational orientation sessions for people interested in volunteering will be held at the centre Jan. 11, Feb. 1, and Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. To register call

403-946-2361.

“How cool is it to say you’ve held a golden eagle,” Jespersen said, adding volunteers make it possible for AIWC to continue to help Alberta’s native wildlife.

“It’s just a great group of people here,” she said.


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