Calgary

Leave a baby hare alone but bring in orphaned squirrels, wildlife society says

The Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is still open and is taking in animals in need, but asking the public to call ahead in order to assess the need for an animal drop-off.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Society has some advice for Calgarians encountering animals

A couple of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society's current wards, including an owl and a baby squirrel. (Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society)

Springtime walks, despite snowy weather, are taking people outside more frequently in Calgary, and the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society has a message for those who may spy a baby animal while outside.

"If you see baby hares, they are likely not orphaned and they should be left alone," said Andrea Hunt, executive director of the group, in an interview on The Homestretch.

But if you see a baby squirrel, that is another story, and you could do a little investigating, she said.

"If you find a baby squirrel on the ground, then it does need help and it should come into care with us."

The society is a charity that takes in injured and orphaned animals, mainly urban wildlife, with the aim to get them the care they need and eventually release the animals back into the environment.

A pair of cuddling squabs (baby pigeons) at the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. (Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society)

The society is still open, with reduced staff and much fewer volunteers helping to do restrictions related to COVID-19.

On top of that, the charity is seeing less donations due to job loss across the province. Hunt says they're operating under an even leaner budget than usual.

It'll still be a busy season as, pandemic or not, springtime is when baby animals are born.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge for us … as we move into our busy season," said Hunt.

"It means that the staff really have to be very judicious with their time and we're just trying to make sure that the focus is on animal care."

Spring is a time when many baby animals, such as the squirrels above, are brought into the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. (Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society)

There are over 50 animals in the facility, and their year-to-date intake is at 136, higher than last year's tally of 119 during the same period.

Hunt says they'd typically be seeing many baby animals like hares and squirrels coming in at this time, but the majority of the animals in intake have been birds.

"Right now, we're seeing a lot of window strikes. We think it's because people are at home, so when birds hit their window, then they bring them to us," she said.

The intake model has been altered slightly. It is now asking the public to always call ahead, to 403-214-1312, when an animal is sighted, so they can help to assess the need and have less people dropping in unnecessarily.

If an animal is deemed to require assistance, then they can be brought to a prearranged bin outside of the society's facilities in northwest Calgary.

Hunt says the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society will soon be offering some online animal updates on their residents like Ophelia the owl or Lito the hawk.

With files from The Homestretch

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