The Humane Society’s Project Wildlife offers some advice to the public.
SAN DIEGO – What to do if you find an injured wild animal? Should you help him or leave him? In this Zevely area, I visited the Humane Society’s Badhe Wildlife Center to get some answers.
Project Wildlife is a program of the San Diego Humane Society. The program is the primary resource for wildlife rehabilitation and conservation education in San Diego County. Each year, they give more than 12,000 injured, orphaned and sick wildlife a second chance to live at the state-of-the-art Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center.
When we arrived for our story. Barbara Bartlett, resident of Otay Mesa, had just arrived after rescuing a baby bird. “He’s just a little guy,” Barbara said. “He is hungry.” The little swallow fell from its nest in Otay Mesa. “We’ll take it from here,” said Kate Jarvis, the centre’s wildlife admissions associate. Kate took the swallow to Susan Wright who is a licensed veterinary technician for an exam. “I’m just looking for injuries,” said Susan.
The bird did not undergo any trauma which was a lesson for the public. If you see a wild animal, you may want to consider observing it for a while, as the animal’s mother may return. “Yes, absolutely. Wait and watch. Give this animal some time,” Kate said. “We never want to intervene if they don’t need help.”
But, often the animals are clearly injured and must be transported to the center. “We never know what we’re going to see here,” Kate said. 75% of the animals they receive are birds, but the hospital accepts all types. “Possums, rabbits, skunks, raccoons, I mean any animal you see walking in your yard we can take care of,” Kate said. “Hundreds of species every year. I mean it’s a lot of work, I probably look a little ragged right now because it’s kind of non-stop.”
Non-stop because March through September is baby season in San Diego County. This is when veterinary assistant Claudia Ibarra pinches as a mom. “It makes me happy to make a difference,” said Claudia.
Dr Julia Hyatt never hears a “thank you”, but it looks great on her. “Oh, it’s great, just to be able to accommodate an animal that would have probably suffered in the wild,” Dr. Hyatt said. At the Ramona campus, staff care for coyotes, bobcats and bears, while promoting conservation and education. For example, they offered this advice on wildlife; if you want to feed the ducks, don’t give them bread, give them lettuce, it’s much healthier for them and they don’t bloat.
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The staff want the public to remember that we share San Diego County with these animals. “Nature is everywhere you walk out of your front door,” said Kate who told us residents should coexist with wild animals. For example, if you spot a skunk in your yard, don’t trap it. “If you see one in your backyard one night, that doesn’t mean it will be in your backyard the next night. It’s probably walking through and eating your black widows and moving around,” Kate said.
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But when animals are injured, you know where to take them to treat them and bring them home. “These animals are not pets and they don’t want anything to do with us. We know that we take care of these animals and we help them. This animal doesn’t know that,” Kate said. “The baby bird that is yawning and wants food, yes we feed it, but whenever we are not it is afraid of us.” I know if I really want what is best for them, I leave them alone and give them space and we get them out of here into the wild as soon as possible. “
The scope of social responsibility of the San Diego Humane Society goes beyond the adoption of animals. They offer programs that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty and neglect, provide medical care, educate the community, and serve as a safety net for all pet families. Serving San Diego County since 1880, the San Diego Humane Society has campuses in El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside, San Diego, and Ramona.
The San Diego Humane Society couldn’t provide such a high standard of care for every animal without the support of the community. “I love that I can give these animals a voice,” said Kate. By volunteering or making a donation, you can support the work of the organization. To learn how to help animals cared for at the San Diego Humane Society, click here.