The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) took in more than 1,400 injured and orphaned animals in 2017.
Executive director Holly Duvall said the number of animals the centre takes in generally increases each year, with the exception of 2016, when the centre cared for nearly 1,900 animals.
“We’re used to seeing an increase,” she said. “I think the biggest challenge that we face is funding. We’re not funded by the government – we rely solely on donations and successful grant applications to operate.
“When we’re looking at our numbers…that’s a lot of mouths to feed and to properly care for.”
With the centre taking in more animals each year, its operating budget increases as well. Duvall said this year’s operating budget was slightly more than $550,000.
Since 1993, AIWC has taken in injured or orphaned wildlife in Alberta and attempted to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild when they are ready. The centre is located in Madden.
Duvall said most animals are injured due to human activities such as window strikes, vehicle collisions, hitting power lines, barbed wire or fishing lines and exposure to toxins.
The centre had a success rate of 52 per cent in 2017 – which Duvall said is the best the centre has ever had, and something the staff is proud of. She said the national average is 33 per cent.
“Unfortunately, with wildlife, when they are in the wild, their best defence mechanism is not showing that they’re injured. So it often will take a long time to capture them,” she said. “When they do actually come into our care, they’re really in dire straits already.”
In 2017, the centre also received more than 5,000 calls through its hotline and was able to help more than 300 animals by providing advice over the phone.
Nearly 80 per cent of the animals AIWC took in in 2017 were birds, including crows, robins, hawks and owls – the most common being Canada geese, according to Duvall.
She said the centre also received a few out of the ordinary animals, including a baby beaver, bushy-tailed woodrat and mink, which looks like a large ferret.
“We see a huge range of species each year,” she said.
For more information about AIWC and what to with injured wildlife, visit aiwc.ca or call the centre’s hotline at 403-946-2361.