Little Mittens expands service to include wildlife rescue

Little Mittens is expanding its rescue capacities to include mittens of all sizes, hooves, talons, webbed toes, and more.

Executive director Alannah Knapp and board chairman Nicole Gangnon have been training and preparing to welcome wildlife rescues from around the Golden area.

Since receiving the training, Little Mittens has already received calls about an injured bald eagle, two great horned owls, and crows.

“It’s needed in our area,” Knapp said. “There’s no permitted licensed wildlife centre from Nelson to Kamloops.”

Prior to Little Mittens expanding their reach to take in injured wildlife, people in Golden would have to call the SPCA in Cranbrook, or the conservation authorities to deal with injured animals in this region.

Both Knapp and Gangnon are familiar with wildlife already. They each have a degree in fish and wildlife, from the same school, where they attended seven years apart. Gangnon works at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with Boo, the resident grizzly bear, and Knapp has worked at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre for more than a decade.

There are a lot of requirements to become a permitted wildlife rescue centre. The people involved need education proof, a facility inspection had to be conducted, they needed to pass a provincial exam, have veterinarian letters of recommendation, and have more than two years experience working with wildlife.

“With having Little Mittens, we would get the calls anyways, so we know there’s a need for it, and we started to work to get it. We both have similar ideas,” Knapp said.

Little Mittens is ready to start accepting wildlife calls, but they will need upgrades to their facilities to accommodate animals from all walks of life.

A 20-acre piece of land has been acquired in town limits on Anderson Road, where Little Mittens will build enclosures for wildlife rescues and rehabilitations. The property includes enough space for deer and fawns to recover, and has a creek running through it, which Knapp and Gangnon hope to use to rehabilitate ducks and other birds in a natural habitat.

“We need to build a new facility entirely. What we have here is very minimal,” Gangnon said. “We have one room and an outdoor area. We need an area to keep deer fawns and adult deer. We need an area for waterfowl, cages for squirrels, and food. The basic necessities of life.”

The current Little Mittens facility has already undergone an inspection, and they were granted approval to operate from where they are now, but they recognize the need for more space.

“What we want in place is the fencing and everything first, and then we will seek our options with buildings,” Gangnon said. “We’re kind of like everybody else that started from the ground up.”

With the new venture rescuing wildlife, Knapp and Gangnon hope that they can also provide proper education and training to the people in Golden, so they know what to do when they encounter injured wildlife.

“A lot of times with fawns , it’s people thinking that they’re orphaned when they’re not. Mom will leave them alone for the day, and they’re safer that way. Same with bunnies. People do it all the time with bunnies. Mom is gone all day and she leaves her little kids alone,” Gangnon said. “Education will be huge in the long run because people will get the proper information and know who to call.”

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