For the past year, Eva Hartmann, Vet Tec and instructor on CAT’s Veterinary Hospital Assistant program, has been busy creating a new wildlife charity for the Okanagan – ‘Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society’.
Tell us a little bit about the charity that you are creating.
Last year, I (along with fellow board members) founded a non-profit society called “Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society” (IWRS), with the mission of providing a licensed facility to take care of injured/orphaned wildlife in the Okanagan.
It became clear, that there is not only a great need to build a facility where members of the public can bring wild animals that have been negatively impacted by human activity, but also that this undertaking has to “stand on another leg”. Namely: providing education and expert advice about human-wildlife interactions! Over 90% of all wildlife injuries admitted to such centers are human-caused.
What animals are you targeting, and what will the charity do for them (ie how do you see yourselves helping?)
We aim to join forces with other privately funded BC rehabilitation centers such as the “Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre” (BC Wildlife Park, Kamloops) and the “South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls” (SORCO, Oliver). These centers are over 100km from Kelowna AND are limited to small mammals, certain birds & reptiles.
The nearest licensed center for hoofed mammals (such as deer fawns and moose calves) is over 350 km in Langley, BC. The transport would be too stressful for a compromised animal to be a valid option. Additionally, certain species have to be released in the region where they were found.
We want to fill both, the distance and species gap. Permit dependent, this includes: hoofed mammals, small mammals and bird species including water fowl.
This is a big (and wonderful) undertaking, what made you decide to do it?
When I first worked in Kelowna at a veterinary clinic, I saw lots of wild animals having to get euthanized because there was nowhere for them to go. Since I have worked in various capacities with domestic and wild animals internationally, I decided to found my own centre and fill an obvious void.
A little history on my related experience: shortly after completing my BSc in Ecosystem Management in Germany, I moved to Victoria, BC. It was there that I was inspired to learn how to care for injured and orphaned wildlife.
My rehabilitation knowledge continues to grow as I mentor under several such centers, including the ‘Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter’ (you may know them from the ‘Wild Bear Rescue’ show on Discovery Canada).
Has working to create a charity been easier or harder than you originally thought?
Our charity-application is still in the pipeline (probably in a pile of applications the CRA has on their desks right now)! Thanks to the slow-like-molasses workings of the government, we have plenty of time now to work on other projects of our society for the rest of 2021…
There is creating wildlife/conservation educational programs, negotiating land-use permits, running our first online auction (“Wild About Spring” – 1st-24th May 2021), collecting building material and in-kind donations from our wish-list etc. (interiorwildlife.ca/ways-to-support-us/).
Applying for charity-status itself is the easiest part!
What has been the biggest stumbling block so far?
The biggest stumbling blocks are to secure a property with utilities, where we are permitted to build, and run such a facility in the long-run. None of the existing land-zone-laws have ‘wildlife centres’ in their books, yet!
The other challenge will be funding through private donations, but we’re a creative bunch and we have a good dose of mule-like persistence amongst us!
What has come together the most easily?
We believe that it’s the most challenging things we work on, that are what give us the greatest rewards. And rewarding it is, to see so much support from the community already!
The Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC (WRNBC) counts 22 licensed facilities in the province today. It can be done! Within the last 3 months, we grew 33 members strong! Currently 7 active volunteers are working with us, 4 of whom make up our very first fundraising committee!
IWRS believe that WE CAN improve the present situation for how our neighbors, co-workers and friends see wildlife in the Okanagan. We think that NO GROUP IS TOO SMALL to make a difference.
When are you hoping to get it up and running and where will it be located?
We are hoping to be able to accept wild patients in April 2022. The location of our animal care facility will be revealed once we have all legalities sorted out. Stay tuned… visit the news-link on our webpage (interiorwildlife.ca/news), it may be near you!
If there was one thing you would love a ‘fairy godmother’ to help you with right now, what would it be?
If a “fairy-godmother” would like to help us find a long-term property (about 99 years), ready-to-go with utilities, a natural water source such as a pond, an old farm-building we can convert into living quarters for care-takers, an educational center and volunteer quarters, as well as no building restrictions for enclosures, we’d love to hear from her!!!
Learn more IWRS at: interiorwildlife.ca
Eva Hartmann working with various wildlife initiatives.