Island woman receives permit to rehabilitate wild P.E.I. animals

Candy Gallant has received a permit from the P.E.I. government for the stated purpose of rehabilitating and re-releasing wildlife — something she has been doing in secret for the past 48 years.

'I've never been able to turn down anything that's little and wants to live'

Gallant says people keep bringing animals in and so she keeps on helping to take care of them before returning them to the wild. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Candy Gallant has been hard at work taking care of injured or abandoned wildlife on P.E.I. for 48 years.

This has meant nursing the wild critters back to health, or giving them needed rest before releasing them back into the wild. But the challenge is that she had to do it all in secret, as keeping wild animals in captivity is illegal in the province.

But now Gallant has a permit — the first to an individual for the stated purpose of rehabilitating and re-releasing wildlife, according to the province.

"Yearly, I get about 800 altogether," Gallant said. "That's baby birds, baby raccoons, skunks, squirrels, mink, weasels — I think every animal that lives on P.E.I."

She would spend her own money getting them food, supplies or medical care. All that could change now as Gallant no longer needs to keep it hidden.

Gallant says there isn't a type of animal on P.E.I. that hasn't been through her home at one time or another. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The permit does not allow her to keep wild animals for pets, and no coyotes or raccoons.

Many of the animals she cares for are birds, coming in her care after flying into windows.

'I just carried on the family tradition'

Her love for wildlife goes way back. When she was a kid she basically grew up with wild animals, so caring for them as an adult is her version of carrying the family torch.

"I grew up with wild animals being part of the family," she said. "We were those people that you brought any sick or orphaned anything too and I just carried on the family tradition, I guess."

Candy Gallant says she is excited to be able to work with rehabilitating the wild animals legally now. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

But over the years, she would have to tell people helping her not to post things on social media — or to keep transported animals covered so that they could slip under the radar.

Gallant said she doesn't recommend other people try to treat or transport wild animals as it is illegal.

The province said in a written statement that the permit is to keep wildlife in captivity issued under regulations of keeping of wildlife in captivity.

This first permit will be for three years, subject to annual reports and inspections.

The government said there is a benefit to added research. It will establish a closer link and open lines of communication with Fish and Wildlife and the Atlantic Veterinary College. They have been providing veterinary services and rehabilitation for wildlife for many years.

Plans for the future

With her new permit, Gallant plans to be able to finally put up a sign and make it easier for people with animals to find her online.

She also plans to look at getting charitable status, so she could raise money to keep her care going. In the last year, she estimates her vet bill for both domestic and wild animals was around $12,000.

Gallant plans to apply for charitable status so she can continue getting supplies and food for all the animals she helps. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Either way, Gallant said she plans to keep helping animals as long as she can. 

"The fact that somebody would arrive with some little animal that needed me," Gallant said.

"I've never been able to turn down anything that's little and wants to live."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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