BC SPCA’s Wild ARC says the facility is housing fewer injured wildlife this spring than typical intake numbers. (Facebook/Wild ARC)

Injured wildlife admissions drop roughly 80 per cent during COVID-19 pandemic

Wild ARC speculates reduced traffic and active job sites impact numbers

Most years, the spring months bring a boom in patient intakes at Wild ARC (Animal Rehabilitation Centre), the BC SPCA’s Metchosin-based wildlife rescue centre.

Each spring the clinic typically takes in about 100 patients – handfuls of critically injured deer or raccoons struck by cars or nests full of baby birds or rabbits discovered in warehouses or busy job sites. But this year things are different.

As of April 8, the centre is caring for only 20 animals.

“It’s way slower than usual,” says Ginelle Smith, Wild ARC manager. “It shows that what we’re dealing with here is mostly human caused.”

Smith asks people to be cautious as they beginning gardening or doing yard work.

“There might be bunny nests, squirrel nests and bird nests … if you do come across something try not to touch them and give us a call immediately,” she said.

READ ALSO: B.C. vet stresses need for pet hygiene despite COVID-19 risk being low

In the last few weeks, British Columbians – along with most of the world – received orders to stay inside and social distance to help curb the spread of COVID-19. On April 7 provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued warnings that people should not make travel or gathering plans for the Easter long weekend – typically a busy time for Vancouver Island parks, camp sites and roads.

While fewer patients are coming in to Wild ARC, Smith says spring babies are being spotted earlier than usual. She can’t say for sure, since a number of factors determine wildlife reproductive timing, but Smith wonders if wildlife are having an easier time finding nesting sites in Greater Victoria.

“Maybe they are just finding areas where they feel safe to do it,” she said.

The non-profit rescue, while fully operational, is feeling the impact of the crisis like everyone else – staff are following physical distancing protocols and summer hiring is frozen.

“It’s good that we don’t [have as many patients] either because we don’t have the manpower,” Smith said, adding funding might feel the pinch too. “We’ve been instructed to cancel all fundraising until July.”

READ ALSO: SPCA seeks cash for duck injured fleeing eagle, smashing into window

Wild ARC remains open for patient intake and pick up arrangements. The facility is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The BC SPCA cruelty report and wildlife support line is 1-855-622-7722. Wild Arc can be reached at 250-478-9453.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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