Rehab center helps wild animals hurt in storms

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The recent storms have led to more wild animals being injured from high winds.

The Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids is working to help provide care with the goal of releasing the animals back into the wild.

Allyson Swanson, a licensed rehabilitator at the center, says they see an increase in demand for their services the day after a severe storm.

“We have been averaging about 60 calls a day and just, on average, half of them need to be animals that come in,” Swanson said. “When there’s bigger storms with higher winds, we see a lot more baby birds falling out of nests, baby squirrels falling out of nests.”

The Wildlife Rehab Center has been serving Grand Rapids and the surrounding community for more than 30 years, relying off donations and a team of more than 60 volunteers.

If you see an injured wild animal, the center says do not feed it because each has a unique diet and feeding it the wrong food can cause harm. They suggest calling their organization or another licensed wildlife rehabilitation center.

“Reaching out is best. Googling is not the best option, you will find a lot of wrong information on Google,” Swanson said.

The center has a variety of licenses to be able to care for these animals from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids on June 23, 2021.

Recovery can take many weeks, some animals may never be able to be rehabilitated and will have to be euthanized by a vet, according to Executive Director Peg Markle.  

“Sometimes, there’s a lot of tears with it, but our main objective is to get them better whether they’re injured, whether they’re sick, whether they’re babies and back in the wild,” Markle said.

Some baby animals must be fed every hour. The care for the animals can also be expensive with surgeries or other procedures.

The center provides treatment to about 3,500 animals a year.

“Finally seeing them fly away, swim away, whatever is natural for them is definitely rewarding and worth it,” Markle said.

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