Little Mittens Animal Rescue is working as quickly as possible to build their animal enclosures for wildlife rehabilitation.
Recently, they were the recipients of grant funding from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Columbia Basin Trust, which has aided their fundraising efforts and helped to install large chainlink enclosures.
The wildlife rehabilitation centre is located just outside of Golden, on tributaries from the Columbia River, which provides plenty of wetlands for waterfowl, and luscious green landscape for four-legged animals.
Little Mittens founder and executive director Alannah Knapp has a lot of support from her board, members of the community, and land owners Ron and Nancy Watson. But, the animal rescue society still needs donations to help with the first phase of the rehabilitation centre.
With 13 orphaned skunks, five squirrels, a handful of deer, and elk all under the care of Little Mittens, they have their hands full. On top of this, Little Mittens continues to run the animal shelter for small animals like cats, rabbits, and sometimes dogs, in town.
Wildlife rescue comes with its own challenges, but Knapp and her team are trained wildlife rehabilitators, ready to take on rescues from across the Kootenays. A lot of wildlife comes from areas like Cranbrook, Kimberley, and Fernie. When Little Mittens receives rescues like elk, they must be released back to where they came from.
Each of the animals that come through Little Mittens’ care gets tagged before it is released after rehabilitation. This helps to track the animal if something happens to it after release.
Knapp wants to be able to take on more wildlife rehabilitation, but first the non profit group must complete the enclosures, using volunteer time and donations.
“You can only fit so many and make sure they are living a good life while they’re with us,” Knapp said. “Being the only place, we get so many calls.”
Once the area is set up, Little Mittens will get a trailer to have a volunteer on site at all times.
This year, Little Mittens Animal Rescue has helped around 100 animal patients. Last year, in its first official year as a wildlife rehabilitator, Little Mittens saved 64.
Many of the rescues are injured wildlife, but some are due to human mishandling.
One of the reasons there are so many skunks in their care is because people are trapping the mother to get the skunks off their property. This leaves orphaned skunks behind that still need to be cared for.
There are many ways to deter skunks from setting up shop near homes and under decks, including smells like citrus, ammonia, mothballs, and predator urine.
Knapp says she also often sees people who think they have rescued baby birds. Many times, the parent birds will leave their fledglings on the ground while they learn to fly. The fledglings could be on the ground for as long as three days, but the parents will continue to watch it and feed it.
Follow Little Mittens on Facebook for ways to limit human-wildlife conflicts, and visit www.littlemittens.org to learn more about the animal rescue and to donate to wildlife rehabilitation.