British Columbia

Donkey refuge says changing climate in B.C. Interior making life tough for animals

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society near Chase is running low on food, because the farm's pasture is not producing grass like it did in the past, and the donkeys haven't been able to graze.

'We’re evolving into a senior donkey care home,' says woman running Chase-area sanctuary

Sophie, a mini-donkey at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society, lies down in the dirt. The woman who runs the refuge, near Chase, B.C., says changing weather in the B.C. Interior is making her work more difficult. (Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society/Facebook)

A woman who runs a donkey sanctuary in the B.C. Interior says changing weather is making life challenging for her efforts and her animals.

The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society near Chase is running low on food because the farm's pasture is not producing grass like it did in the past, and the donkeys haven't been able to graze.

"There's not as much snow, which is concerning, because snow means moisture in the ground for the spring," Shirley Mainprize told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce. "Summers are different now. It's hot, hot, hot.

"We're losing our pastures by the end of June, which means the donkeys are unable to be out enjoying the green grass for the summer months."

Part of the refuge's coming improvements have to do with fencing in more pasture area. (Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge Society/Facebook)

Mainprize and her husband have been caring for otherwise homeless donkeys for 20 years.

The refuge is home to 120 donkeys from Western Canada, Alaska and Washington who may have been abandoned, neglected, abused or even picked up at meat auctions.

In recent years, Mainprize says, a large number of the animals are coming into her care, because their owners are too old to care for them, and the animals are, themselves, old and therefore hard to sell.

"We're evolving into a senior donkey care home," she said, adding donkeys can live 35 to 50 years.

Feeding all of those animals is never easy, but Mainprize says the changing weather means the refuge is spending more on hay including $40,000 in 2018 alone.

She says the refuge now needs to fundraise to pay for a new well to improve irrigation in the pasture.

The well has already been installed thanks to the refuge's successful application for a provincial grant that covered half the costs, but the refuge needs to raise $52,000 to pay the remainder.

The farm is also paying to fence in more pasture area and improve its handling of manure which is sold as fertilizer.

"People buy it. It's incredible manure."

Listen to the full story:

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak Kamloops

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