Dear Supporters and fellow Wildlife Lovers;
I feel a pressing need to address you directly, as a person, as a wildlife rehabilitator, as someone committed to correcting the injustices our built world consistently inflicts on our wild neighbors, and also, and perhaps most significantly, as the person who is most directly responsible for communicating our work, our goals, and our needs to you, our supporters, followers and fellow wildlife lovers.
Talking about our work is easy. I am deeply committed to it. I love what we do. I feel privileged to be able to work so closely with wild animals. I am grateful for all that having been so close to unfettered freedom has taught me. Standing up in front of a room, putting my thoughts on paper, posting on the internet, is natural for me – as natural as rising early every summer morning and crossing the Arcata bottoms on my way to Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, our clinic in Bayside, to prep food for a couple dozen orphaned raccoons, offer mealworms to nestling songbirds, and return calls from people who’ve found an injured wild animal, or help them resolve a conflict with an animal who has wandered across one of our arbitrary and unnatural lines we’ve drawn between our world and theirs.
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My comfort zone includes some pretty awful things – broken wings, a car-smashed Opossum mother with babies still in her pouch, a thrush torn apart by a housecat and still breathing. My training and experience have taught me how to set aside immediate feelings and take action. It’s what I do. It’s what all wildlife rehabilitators do – every day of the year – here at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, and in every other clinic – from well-funded organizations with a million dollar budget to the garage and shed of a “backyard rehabber” – which is by far the most common.
BAX supports all wildlife rehabilitators with education and workshops. As rehabilitators we know how critical good information is to do the job that we are each so passionate about – it’s one of our three primary missions.
We also provide direct care for wild animals in distress – at HWCC, but also as responders to oil spills around our state and beyond. One of our co-founders, Marie Travers, is currently in British Columbia, Canada, working with Focus Wildlife responding to a maritime accident that spilled thousand of gallons of fuel into a pristine habitat near the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest remaining unspoiled temperate rainforests in the world.
Promoting co-existence with the Wild is another of our critical missions. This takes many forms, including what you are reading right now. We go to schools. We go to conferences. We rely on the support of local media to help us bring a voice for the voiceless.
Arguing for justice is difficult and emotionally costly work, but it is very gratifying. The desire for justice, the urge to rise to the defense of the marginalized, is common, and who is more marginalized than the skunk hit by a car and carelessly, thoughtlessly, left by the side of the road, bloating and forgotten? There is an adage among conservationists, that “every victory is temporary, every loss permanent.” We feel the truth of this each day. And by and large, we remain undaunted.
But for me, there is one task that requires me to steel my nerves, gather my courage, and plunge in. And that is asking for your support – your money – your check. It’s obvious, of course, that all of what I’ve described above – the thousands of animals we’ve cared for, the thousands more we’ve prevented from becoming casualties, the people we’ve reached, the wild lives and the human lives we’ve helped – can’t be done in our world without money. So, regardless of my discomfort, I ask for donations. I ask often. Some people might be good at it. Maybe I am, I don’t know. I just know that what we need and what we have don’t match. So comfortable or not, good at it or not, I have to do it – just like I’m doing now.
Every month I set a goal. The last few months the goal was $7000 – honestly, that’s not quite enough, and if it wasn’t for the holiday and end of year fundraising, as well as a reliable foundation grant, we wouldn’t meet our needs on $84,000 a year – a terrible crisis – we can’t spend what we don’t have. Yet, the last two months we haven’t even come close to meeting our $7000 goal. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.
Worrying about the care we provide is part of my job – I accept it – worrying about our volunteers and staff – that they’re being treated well and getting the opportunities to learn they want and need – is also part of my job. Worrying about the money? It’s part of my job, but it’s the one that scares me the most. The other aspects are in my control. Our quality of care, our intern program – those are ours to make as good as we can. The support required, well, that depends on me asking, but it really depends on our community providing. We are only as strong as you make us.
We have a relatively small budget. In our dreams, we’d have $250,000 a year to spend. We’d be able to fund every program we’ve designed and pay the staff meager salaries to get it done. As it is, we make it all work, for now, on about $100,000 per year. We have one full time and one part time staff person. Everything else goes to our patients and our wildlife ambassador birds. Right now, we are $10,000 short of our usual annual donations. So far, we are continuing to meet our mission – you can scroll though our past stories to see the work we’ve done – from returning a local Bald Eagle who’d suffered lead poisoning to the wild, to delivering our aquatic bird workshop to rehabilitators on the Oregon coast. Yet, we have expenses, such as food and medicine, still unpaid from our busy summer season. Our suppliers know that we work hard, but that doesn’t mean they give their products away.
Now as wintering seabirds and geese return to our region, our expenses will increase again. Additionally, this is the time of year when repairs and maintenance to our facility must be completed.
In short, we need your help.
As this year’s contentious election season comes to a close, and the anxiety of our uncertain future looms – climate chaos, toxic spills, international instability, here at home, no matter what happens, our wild neighbors will need us. Wild animals will still be the most marginalized victims of the hazards of the world we humans have built. And we’ll need to be here for them.
Only your support makes that possible. Which is why I fight my discomfort and ask for your generous donation. Please, we need you. [You can click here to Donate Now]
Thank you for your past support, and thank you for enduring my constant appeals.
co-director Bird Ally X, director Humboldt Wildlife Care Center