This spring, the Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (IWRS) is launching its first fundraiser to benefit injured and orphaned wildlife.
Eva Hartmann, president of IWRS, first became aware of the need through her work as a registered veterinary technician in Kelowna.
The majority of wildlife injuries are caused by a conflict with humans, such as vehicle collisions and attacks from domestic pets. According to Hartmann, these incidents are becoming more common as the population in Kelowna grows and development encroaches on natural environments.
Currently, there isn’t a wildlife rescue centre nearby. The closest alternatives are SORCO in Penticton, which is limited to raptors only, and the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops, located two hours away.
“That’s too far away to help any injured or orphaned animals in our valley,” said Hartmann.
“Typically, they would have to be euthanized at an emergency veterinary clinic. I just think that we need to fill the gap.”
Hartmann has been working on developing a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Kelowna with the help of five other board members. Recently, the IWRS applied to receive official charity status.
Since January 2020, the IWRS has been looking for a suitable property of 10 to 15 acres to establish and build a licensed facility.
Their first fundraiser will be an online silent auction, called Wild About Spring, from May 1 to 24 with the goal of raising $150,000 towards construction costs.
“We are still working on getting the proper permits to comply with the zoning bylaws,” said Hartman.
“We will be building everything from the ground up, so the funds raised will go towards the new facility and our first enclosures.”
The plan is to secure a piece of land and start construction this spring. The IWRS hopes to be accepting their first patients in 2022.
The Wild About Spring online auction can be found at interiorwildlife.ca/spring-auction-2021.
Those interested in sponsorships or donating items to the silent auction can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the website, there is also a list of volunteer opportunities and resources for what to do if an injured or orphaned animal is found.