Local wildlife rescue could be forced to close - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Local wildlife rescue could be forced to close

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A local wildlife education and rehabilitation center could be forced to close its doors. The staff and volunteers at Back to the Wild in Castalia have been helping injured and orphaned animals for more than 20 years but a huge donation has dried up. Like a lot of zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers, they received large quantities of free mice and rats to feed their animals. But that is no longer happening and now they are scrambling to find a way to make up the difference.

From owls to bob cats and squirrels to eagles it's an around the clock job keeping all the animals fed and cared for at Back to the Wild. Mice and rats make up a big part of the diet for most of the animals. They feed the animals hundreds of mice and rats every night and that adds up to about  $80,000 every year.

Mona Rutger is the founder of Back to the Wild. She has spent the last 24 years caring for the animals. A large food donation every year helped her feed them but that has come to an end, " I am an optimist I feel like someone out there is in a position to help."Back to the Wild relies completely on donations to cover the $365,0000 annual budget. Now you can add $80,000 to that number, " I can't bear the thought of closing the center. We are visited by more than 70,000 school children and adults every year for educational programs. We go into the schools. we runs camps and even a free day camp for under privileged children. I just can't let all that be gone."

If the center closes, some of the animals may have to be put down, "Each center is only allowed a limited number of any one species through the federal government. If an animal is considered in excess, like a red tail hawk or some of the owls, they would have to be euthanized if there were no center with space to take them. However, I am not going to let that happen."

The staff and volunteers have the same can-do spirit. Heather Yount is the staff supervisor, "You are going to fight to keep this open? Absolutely! All of the staff members here feel the same way. We are going to do whatever it takes, whether that means working longer hours or extra effort, we are going to do what it takes to make sure this place keeps going." All the animals are counting on that.

To expand on the fact that some of the animals may have to be euthanized if the center closes. We are talking about permanently crippled animals, so they can't be released. As Mona said the government puts limits on how many of a species each center can have and most centers are already at their limit. So in many cases, the animals couldn't be transferred either.

Back to the Wild cares for about 2,500 animals every year. Many of them make a full recovery and do go back to the wild

 

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