The Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (PWRC) is a local non-profit organization whose purpose is to treat injured, orphaned, or abandoned wildlife and to release them back into the wild whenever possible. The PWRC is a relatively new organization, having obtained non-profit charity status in 2007 after branching out from another wildlife organization in Manitoba. I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the PWRC’s four founding members, Lisa Tretiak, to find out more about this fascinating group.
Tretiak sites one of the main benefits to having multiple local wildlife rescue organizations as an increased ability to help injured and abandoned wildlife. The PWRC increases the options available for wildlife in need of assistance and resources available to the public. Some unique services offered by the PWRC include their flexible hours and rescue service. According to Tretiak, the PWRC is the only organization in Manitoba that offers a wildlife pickup and rescue service. Further, it is the only organization available during evening hours; the wildlife phone line is accessible seven days a week, usually until 10 p.m. Tretiak says the PWRC currently receives around 30 calls per day in summer time and about 10 per week during the winter. The PWRC also has several wildlife drop-off locations available in Winnipeg and the surrounding area, and boasts two certified wildlife rehabilitators (CWR).
CWR accreditation involves hands-on knowledge and field experience with wildlife and continued education. CWRs must pass a written exam. Another unique feature offered by the PWRC is the use of both traditional veterinary medicines and homeopathic remedies. Tretiak says the homeopathic treatments are cheaper and safer for wildlife, suitable for the acute injuries most often experienced by wildlife and tend to bring results faster. Tretiak is also a Master Bander, certified to band birds of prey found in Manitoba. All birds of prey — raptors such as eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls — that pass through the PWRC are banded by Tretiak, which allows them to be identified after release back into the wild.
When a banded animal is found and reported via the 1-800 number engraved on the band, the individual or group that banded the animal is contacted and provided information on when and where the animal was found. The person who found the banded animal receives a certificate, detailing the animal’s age, and where and why it was banded. This information can provide valuable statistics to scientists such as how far an individual has traveled, it’s lifespan and migration route, and is one means of tracking the success of raptors released through the PWRC. The PWRC plans to eventually tattoo release mammals for the same purpose.
Another unique feature of the PWRC is their captive wildlife enrichment program, which is detailed on their website. This program is designed to increase the skills of wildlife to improve their success upon release and to lower their stress levels while in captivity.
The PWRC does not yet have a permanent location, but is based primarily out of a rural private property that has converted two school buses into mobile wildlife trailers, complete with indoor cages, cleaning and medical supplies. The PWRC is currently evaluating two possible sites to build a permanent location, including a main office and over 60 acres of land in which to build both indoor and outdoor enclosures for rescued and rehabilitating wildlife. One of the roles of the PWRC’s volunteers is to provide foster homes for recuperating wildlife. Other jobs include handling media, advertising and special events, as well as feeding and cleaning animals and work as drivers who are on call to pick up injured wildlife in Winnipeg and surrounding area.
As a new organization, there are many difficulties that the PWRC has had to overcome. Tretiak listed obtaining charity status as one of the first challenges faced by the PWRC but she was very pleased to say that the PWRC’s members were determined enough to successfully achieve non-profit status without the use of lawyers or other third parties. This allowed them to put more of their savings toward covering the PWRC’s start-up costs. Raising funds and obtaining donations as a new and little known charity represented another major challenge faced and overcome by the PWRC. A small but growing organization, the PWRC currently has six board members, all of whom are unpaid volunteers. Tretiak herself is a full-time volunteer and mother, frequently trundling her three and six year old off to rescue injured animals or to attend to the PWRC information booths and other fundraiser events. Tretiak hopes she will one day be able to have a paid position with the organization she has worked so diligently with the other founders to create. All other members of the PWRC volunteer part-time.
The PWRC intends to continue expanding its board of directors, members and volunteer base and to one day have between five and 10 permanent staff members. The PWRC’s education program was created in March 2010 and the education program coordinator, Jen Syrowitz, is currently the only paid member of the PWRC. The education coordinator is involved in organizing volunteer schedules, working with schools, parks, and community groups, organizing special events, promoting the PWRC through information booths, spreading information about the wildlife that has passed through the PWRC’s doors since 2007, and perhaps most importantly, raising youth awareness about how to live peacefully and safely with wildlife. If you think that sounds like an interesting job, the PWRC is looking to hire a new part-time education coordinator in November when Syrowitz moves away!
Do you know what to do if you find injured or abandoned wildlife? The best place to start is with the PWRC. Their website, PWRC.ca, is set up in an easy to use fashion and contains a list of “What to do” flowcharts that will guide you through the steps to take when dealing with various wildlife situations. The site also contains an excellent links section for more wildlife information and resources. As well, there is a PWRC history section, links to YouTube.com videos of wildlife releases, a Facebook .com group and a blog where you can read about the latest PWRC events and animals being rescued, rehabilitated, and released.