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Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation hit hard by hail storm

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Monday, Aug 18, 2014 12:58 pm

Allison Chorney/Rocky View Publishing

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The hailstorms that ripped through Airdrie and area on Aug. 6 and 7, caused millions of dollars of damage as hail pounded homes and vehicles but the storm also took its toll on wildlife in the area.

The Alberta Institute of Wildlife Conservation (AIWC), located near Madden, was impacted by hail damage to property and animals in their care, and saw an increase in the number of injured animals brought to the facility.

“Thursday night after the first round of hail in the Airdrie area, 10 to 12 animals came in (to AIWC). On Friday we had 16 animals (brought) in, in the span of a couple of hours,” said AIWC Wildlife Rehabilitation Technician Holly Duvall. “These were animals that were injured by the hail but were otherwise healthy.”

She said the majority of the animals they saw with hail-related injuries were birds, with gulls taking a particularly hard hit. The animals had a variety of serious injuries from open fractures to missing eyes. The centre has an onsite clinic where medical procedures are performed but some animals were too injured to be saved.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the animals that came in had to be euthanized,” she said.

Duvall said she thinks a big reason for the extent of the injuries was how quickly the storm came on, which didn’t give animals much time to react.

“Sometimes hail comes through but never to this extent before,” Duvall said.

The fast-moving storm was so sudden animals and people had little time to react and two young mallards at the centre were killed during the storm on Aug. 7.

“The storm came on so quickly. Our volunteers and clinic staff rushed out to get the animals but it came on so quickly we couldn’t get them all in time,” she said.

She added the volunteers and staff that ran out into the storm to save the animals ended up with big bruises on their body.

A gadwall duckling and a baby porcupine at the facility were also injured in the storm.

The duckling has a fractured leg and will be on cage-rest for the next four weeks until his leg heals and the porcupine received minor injuries but is doing well now.

“With the ducklings, they’d naturally find shelter in the water, they wouldn’t look for a cave or covering. Unfortunately, that was the worse place for them to be because it was in the direct path of the hail,” Duvall said.

As for the porcupine, Duvall said the prickly little girl was hit in the head with hail because she was out in the open when the hail began falling and porcupines are generally slow moving so she just couldn’t get to cover fast enough.

Duvall said the storm that hit the facility on Aug. 6 did the majority of the damage to the buildings and the Aug. 7 storm was hardest on the animals.

Debra Oldfield, who does administration and fundraising at AIWC, said life at the centre has been very busy since the storm.

“Almost all of our animal enclosures outside had their roofs pretty much destroyed,” she said. “It’s been crazy around here.”

Oldfield said the facility is very grateful to the about 10 volunteers who came out to help repair the enclosures after the storms.

“We had some emergency volunteer requests and people have come out to help us out,” she said.

The enclosure housing seven great horned owls was hardest hit and the roof needed to be completely replaced.

Duvall said the centre was told by their insurance company it would be about three to four weeks before the damage at the centre could be appraised and to fix what they could now but keep everything for the appraisers to look at.

Because the owl enclosure was so badly damaged it had to be repaired right away.

Duvall said the facility will have to file an insurance claim, which will come with a $1,000 deductable.

Monetary donations can be made online at aiwc.ca or by calling the centre at 403-946-2361.


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