New Mexico Non Profits Strive to Rescue Area Wildlife
One of the greatest things about living in the West is the access we have to a tremendous amount of backcountry. Did you know that the first designated wilderness area in the country was the Gila Wilderness in 1924? The Gila Wilderness (558,014 acres) sits within The Gila National Forest, which is 3.3 million acres of forested hills, majestic mountains and range land. Given our abundant wilderness, we also have an obligation to the wildlife. A number of non-profit organizations in New Mexico have stepped up to give a second chance to animals that would otherwise perish due to common threats such as habitat loss, pollution and other man-made situations. All wildlife non profits depend upon the goodwill of donors to keep their mission alive, and many welcome and couldn’t exist without volunteers. So if you are looking for a good cause for your time and skills, why not help keep New Mexico wild.
What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
Wildlife rehabilitation is the treatment and care of injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals so that they can be released back to into the wild. Rescue operations focus on wildlife such as raptors like barn owls, hawks, and eagles, all kinds of birds, rabbits, squirrels, and other small mammals. There are rules against the rescue of animals with a rabies concern such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks. In these cases, people are advised to call the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. And large mammals like deer, bobcats, bears and mountain lions are also handled by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
According to Anne Hubbard, a seven-year volunteer with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, it is on humans to help since we destroy the habitat. “It is our responsibility to take care of and provide for these animals. And it is so heartwarming to see a guy in distress, treat him, and be able to release him successfully back into the wild.” Dawn Wright, office manager and volunteer coordinator, New Mexico Wildlife Center, feels that the issue has broad implications. “Wildlife are part of the ecosystem and we lose a link in the chain with every species that disappears.”
Wildlife Rescue New Mexico—Albuquerque, NM
Since 1981, Wildlife Rescue New Mexico, based in Albuquerque, has been dedicated to rescuing wildlife in New Mexico. The all volunteer, non-profit has 2,000 intakes annually—and 100% of donations go toward the care, feeding, and housing of rescued wildlife. A large part of the organization’s focus is education—disseminating accurate information about wildlife and helping people understand why habitat preservation is vital. Since it is an all volunteer format, they are always in need of help. “This time of year we always need extra hands, especially as we extend our hours for the summer,” says Hubbard. Jobs range from transporting injured animals to fundraising, cage building, and helping with the education program. “We have some limited mobility volunteers who help with our intake desk and our hotline; two very important aspects of our operation.” Volunteers can be as young as 11, with a guardian accompanying them.
The organization also reaches thousands of children through its educational outreach—many youngsters know very little about the wild animals in their region and are unaware of the tremendous impact we all have on the prospects for their continued survival. If you are interested in an education presentation (donation required) for your school, group, or business please leave a message at (505) 344-2500 or contact Madge Rice, Education Coordinator. To find out more about the organization and how to get involved, visit www.wildliferescurenm.org.
New Mexico Wildlife Center—Espanola, NM
New Mexico Wildlife Center in Espanola, NM, founded in 1986, works to restore native wildlife through education, strategic partnerships, and rehabilitation. The Center sees between 800 and 1,000 intakes per year. With only 9 employees, it relies on the 75+ volunteers who contribute time and resources. On its 20-acre campus there is a wildlife hospital and rehab facility, space for education groups, and a “wild walk” that exhibits more than 35 animals that could not be released back into the wild.
It is really fascinating to learn what brought the non-releasable animals to the Center and why they could not be released into the wild. (Visitors are welcomed from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.) Visitors also can learn about the native habitat for each animal and the environmental challenges the animals face. Groups can request a visit from the Center ($70 to $100 fee) with a variety of programming that includes live raptor demos, science education, and tours of non-releasable education animals.
New Mexico Wildlife Center also depends upon a network of volunteers to operation its facility. “We always need volunteers,” says Wright. Volunteers, ages 18 and up, should be able to work at least four hours per week (after attending an orientation). “There are a variety of areas where we need assistance such as cleaning out enclosures, feeding animals, and helping with the construction and improvements process.” She also says there is a great need for transporting animals to the Center.
A special opportunity for youngsters (grades 4-6) with New Mexico Wildlife Center is through its Summer Camp program. These day camps last for one week and are heavily science-based; participants receive a good foundation of local ecosystems. For info, visit the Center’s blog at https://newmexicowildlife.org.
Santa Fe Raptor Center – Santa Fe, NM
This non-profit’s mission is to specifically care for injured birds and release them back into their natural habitat. It cites common causes for injury as impact with power lines and vehicles, accidental poisoning, and lead gun shot. Volunteers are a valued part of the operation and hands-on work includes cleaning cages, feeding birds, and transporting wildlife. Volunteers with experience in construction, fundraising, publicity, computer, and office work are also welcome. On June 4 and August 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Raptor Center will bring educational raptors to the Santa Fe Farmers Market for visits. Learn more about the Santa Fe Raptor Center at www.santaferaptorcenter.org
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary– Ramah, NM – www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org
This unique non profit in rural Ramah, NM focuses on the rescue and lifetime sanctuary of displaced, unwanted, and un-releasable captive-bred wolves, wolf-dogs, and other related species. With more than 60 animals on site, education is a key element of the organization. The standard tour lasts about one hour and includes a history of the Sanctuary, an overview of wolf and wolf-dog characteristics and care for them, and an explanation why wolves and wolf-dogs make poor pets. Animals are kept behind a safety fence. Other specialty tours include feeding tours, a photography tour, and specialized encounters with an “ambassador” wolf. Author and Santa Fe entrepreneur George R.R. Martin is an advocate for Wild Spirit Sanctuary and spearheaded a fundraising campaign that raised $200,000. In addition, he personally named 10 rescues from Iowa based on his A Song of Ice and Fire series, with names such as Nymeria. There are many ways to get involved with the Sanctuary as donors, members, and volunteers. Visit www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org for more information.
Santa Fe Animal Shelter—Santa Fe, NM
While not a wildlife rescue, the SFAS rescues and re-homes stray or abandoned cats and dogs (annually more than 5,000), and is the largest animal shelter and care facility in northern New Mexico. The shelter also reunites people with their lost animals, offers low, no-cost spay/neuter programs, and operates a veterinarian care facility. Volunteers participate directly with the animals as well as maintain kennels and provide administration help. And the shelter is always seeking foster families to care for animals that aren’t ready for adoption. Learn more at www.sfhumanesociety.org.
For children who want an up-close-and-personal experience with animals, the shelter runs its annual Critter Camps, designed for kids ages 10-13. During the week-long camps, kiddos participate in all aspects of the shelter and the clinic. Beginning camp runs June 12-16 and June 26-30, while advanced camp is slated for July 17-21 and July 31-August 4. To register or for more info, call 505-983-4309 ext. 1128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Joel Sartore, www.joelsartore.com
Courtesy: New Mexico Wildlife Center