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Wildlife center gives injured animals second chance at life

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Wildlife center gives injured animals second chance at life

Donna Burt, director of Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center, feeds a red shouldered hawk.

Photo contributed/

POSTED June 23, 2012 1:45 a.m.

HUGHSON — Local wildlife orphaned or injured have a second chance at survival thanks to the efforts of dedicated staff and volunteers at the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center.

 The center, located on two acres of land along the Tuolumne River in the Fox Grove Regional Park, is a refuge for thousands of animals that are brought in by concerned citizens every year. Wounded, orphaned or abandoned wildlife are rehabilitated and then released back into their natural habitat.

Director and founding member Donna Burt said the wildlife center plays an important role in native animal advocacy and education in the community.

“The wildlife in your backyard is important … they are important enough to care for,” Burt said. “(The center) increases the importance of wildlife in everyone’s eyes.”

In 2011, the wildlife center received 2,116 animals representing 123 different species. The most common species seen at the center (1,844) was birds. The reasons for injury varied, with the most common cause mauling by a cat or dog, followed by car or window collisions.

Out of the 2,116 animals that were brought to the center, 636 were admitted in hopeless condition. They were either dead on arrival or admitted with injuries so severe and irreparable that they were euthanized for humane reasons.

The animals that survive but cannot be released for reasons related to health or safety become permanent residents of Stanislaus Wildlife Center and are used as education animals for public events and classroom talks.

While the center is not regularly open to the public, one day a year the animals make an appearance at the Day With Wildlife event. The annual event gives visitors a feel for what the center does on a day-to-day basis. Visitors can watch a video of center activities, meet the animals, and listen to lectures from animal caregivers and the center’s veterinarian.

Kids can participate in educational activities at A Day with Wildlife, including analyzing owl pellets and learning about each of the education animals. The center’s animal ambassadors include several owls, a crow, snakes, a squirrel, skunk and several others.  This year’s event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 15.

The wildlife center also needs volunteers to help with the care and rehabilitation of its animal residents.

“This is the baby animal time of year,” said Burt. “We are right now at the highest case load of the year and we’re really full of animals. We need volunteers.”

The center is also in need of monetary donations.

“We’ve been fortunate in the last couple of years; we had a windfall from … very large donations. This year we’re running about $9,000 short,” said Burt.

For information on volunteering at the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center or making a donation, visit and click on the “Support the Center” tab at the left of the homepage; or call 883-9414.



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