Langley’s Critter Care Wildlife Society has seen a big increase in injured or abandoned animals in the last month, possibly because people are home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Volunteers and staff at the centre, located in Campbell Valley Regional Park in South Langley, had hoped there might be fewer animals needing their help this spring, with fewer drivers on the roads or people going into the back country, said Cayce Anderson, the animal care supervisor.
However, the opposite happened.
“We’re actually up about 50 admissions more than the same time last year,” Anderson said.
Everyone is out gardening on their property now that they’re stuck at home, apparently.
“They’re coming across bunnies and squirrels in their yard,” she said.
Critter Care takes in young animals separated from their mothers, as well as injured wild animals, with the aim or rehabilitating and eventually releasing them back into their natural habitat.
The extra animals coming in are small for the most part and there is room for them, but Critter Care has barely avoided a shortage of staffing.
The international travel bans caused by COVID-19 meant a number of new interns who were scheduled to start couldn’t come from overseas, said Anderson.
Fortunately, there are people locally who have stepped up to take their places. Some of them are stuck in Canada and out of work right now.
“Luckily, there were animal lovers in that group of people,” Anderson said.
Rabbits and squirrels are the majority of animals coming in now, but other animals will become more common as baby season progresses.
“We’ve just had our first baby raccoons,” said Anderson. Next will be skunks, otters, and beavers.
The shelter staff are still hoping that there will be fewer bears, with fewer people going into provincial parks and the forests, Anderson said.
“Really, really hope so,” she said.
Especially because Critter Care still has 29 bears from last year waiting to be old enough to be released.
With access to provincial parks shut down, Critter Care hasn’t yet determined how releases will take place, but they work with the B.C. Conservation Service, so Anderson is hopeful that won’t be a problem.
The coronavirus is making an impact on the group in other ways, she said.
The biggest fundraiser for Critter Care, an annual gala evening, was at first postponed to May, but has now been cancelled.
“That’s a massive, massive hit,” to the group’s finances, said Anderson.
Then there’s the shortage of toilet paper and paper towels – items Critter Care goes through in massive quantities keeping baby animals clean, along with gloves.
Donations from local suppliers and grocers have kept them going with bleach and gloves, but Anderson said the shelter would gratefully accept donations of TP, paper towels, or other needed items.
The gates are staying closed at the shelter – it does not normally accept visitors anyway – but anything can be dropped off there daily. Donors are asked to call Critter Care at 604-530-2054 if they are leaving perishable items.
The shelter is located at 481 216th Street.