Wildlife gets an extra helping hand from Little Mittens

Talons, hooves, paws, and claws, Little Mittens does it all with the opening of their wildlife rescue.

They have been operating for nearly a year, and are constantly busy with calls they get for animals in distress. At the Town of Golden regular open council meeting on July 5, Little Mittens brought a staff report regarding the Anderson Road Little Mittens Agricultural Land Reserve application, and council resolved to authorize the application.

Little Mittens is seeking to apply for exclusion of agricultural land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for a part of the north half of the southeast quarter of the land they wish to operate on.

Approval of the application would allow for non-farm uses for a refuge for wildlife, with a nursery, and a small dwelling unit. The portion used as pasture would remain in the ALR. A limit would be placed on the building construction to be determined after a riparian assessment with wetland protections, and an engineer determines it is a safe setback from appropriate flood construction levels.

“The ALR is not secured yet. It went through town council, but still needs to be approved by the ALR commissioner, so we are waiting for their response,” said Alannah Knapp, executive director of Little Mittens.

Certified in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, Little Mittens has been a busy hub of activity, taking care of cats, kittens, and other animals at the shelter, adopting those animals out, and working to take care of wildlife as it is called in.

Staff at Little Mittens keep in contact with Conservation Officer Services, and report all of their calls to the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline.

“People should always call the RAPP line to report injured or orphaned animals, but they can call us to assist and pick up,” Knapp said.

Since endeavouring to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife, Little Mittens has taken on close to 40 wild animals.

“All small wildlife like birds, ducks, geese, squirrels. A few eagles and an owl,” Knapp said. “They have all either been released or some didn’t make it.”

Recently, Little Mittens released its first bald eagle that the veterinarian in Invermere fixed up in surgery.

“She was cared for by the Invermere vet team, and we were able to release her back where we caught her when she was injured,” Knapp said. “We have also managed to find wild foster moms for a few species like baby geese and some baby swallows. We released them with another wild mom. This is my favourite method, as it gets them back out in the wild right away if they’re healthy.”

At this time of year, a lot of birds are learning to fly, and are called fledglings. They can be on the ground for a few days while their parents are not far away, teaching them and continuing to feed them.

“Always look around and watch for mom,” Knapp said.

Baby deer, fawns, can be left alone without their mother for extended period of time as well, and could be alone all day. Rabbits are similar, and the mother will go to feed them a couple times each day.

“Mom is usually close by,” Knapp said. “We post a lot of information on our Facebook about what to do if you find baby animals.”

Knapp says it is rewarding to release animals back into the wild after they have been cared for.

“My favourite part when it comes to the wildlife side of the job is releasing them back into the wild where they belong,” she said. “The hardest part is having the animals that come in that have been really injured. You want so badly to be able to save them all, but that’s not always the case.”

At the shelter, Little Mittens is running its “spay yo momma” campaign, where they will spay pregnant female cats for free, so long as they get to keep all of the kittens once they are weaned and ready to leave their mother. This way, Little Mittens can ensure they are fixed, vaccinated, and dewormed proper to adopting them out.

“We will have a couple handfuls of kittens ready for adoption in a couple weeks, but that could also change day by day,” she said.

Little Mittens is always looking for extra helping hands. Volunteering opportunities are always available if anyone wants to help with recycling, transporting animals to or from the veterinarian, and other jobs.

“We have had a fair bit of smaller wildlife come in from Cranbrook, since we are the closest permitted rescue,” Knapp said. “So, we have to work out a lot of rides, but we have a truck driver that is friends with another rescuer in Cranbrook… So that helps.”

To report any injured wildlife, call Little Mittens at 250-939-8085. To find out more information about what they do, or to keep updated with wildlife tips and pictures, go to their Facebook page or their website www.littlemittens.org.

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