The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) has taken in and nursed over 1,700 wounded or orphaned animals in Alberta this year, but there are more and more injured animals that need help.
The animals that the institute sees are unfortunately injured, maimed, or orphaned as the result of human interference. AIWC operates across Alberta, though Lillie said the majority of the injured animals, upwards of 75 per cent of injured animals come in through their Calgary center, while the rest come from surrounding areas.
"It's very rarely natural predation or natural cause reasons why we see these animals in our care. In an ideal world, we would not need wildlife rehabilitation centers," said Holly Lillie, the Executive Director for the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation. "The reality is that the demand for our services increases every year. 95 per cent of the cases are coming in as a result of human conflict or interaction in some way."
AIWC sees everything from bear cubs, moose calves, fox pups, flying squirrels, badgers, bats and beavers.
"We've dubbed this year as the year of the mammal because of the huge diversity of mammal species that we've cared for," Lillie said. "That doesn't even count the over 110 different [bird] species that we see; Those range from grebes to swans, to robins,"
The cost of treating the injured or orphaned critters can be upwards of 1000 dollars, though each animal has very different needs.
"With all of the moose that we received this year, they came into care because the mother has been hit by a car and they're orphaned," she said. " For a baby moose, just like they would in the wild, they will need their mother's milk and that is a specialized formula that we have to order actually from the United States. So there's a big cost of the milk."
Flying creatures, such as birds need vastly different care, especially if they have broken wings or head trauma.
"Depending on the injury, the average is about two to three weeks of care. For a songbird, their food would be fruits, and then insects depending on the species, or mealworms and crickets," Lillie said. "It's a very specialized field that we do and it's essential because if these animals aren't coming into our care, they will just perish in the wild, unfortunately."
Like many NGO's the pandemic has vastly impacted AIWC's funding and they are asking the public for help, but it's not just monetary help that they are seeking.
"You can follow AIWC on Facebook and on Instagram to learn more about the important work we do; you can also donate items from our wish list too. Perhaps you are able to get a few extra grocery items or you have an item that you're not using and it's in line with what we have on our wish list," Lillie said. "If you're shopping for Christmas gifts, we have a great program; the adopt- an-animal program where you can symbolically adopt an animal and gift that to yourself or a loved one."
The goal for AIWC is to raise 85,000 dollars by the end of December, which will allow them to continue saving lives through the rest of 2022. For Lillie, her love of animals is a requisite for the work she does.
"It can be very challenging emotionally, especially at our facilities. We see wildlife that comes in, in really poor conditions. So you do have to be an animal lover," she said. "[My favourite animal] would definitely be the beaver. We got quite a few beavers in this year and they're just they're amazing animals. They're often thought of as a pest in the wild, but they really do fantastic work and they are amazing engineers."