● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
When going about the business of daily life the majority of us do not think about the impact our actions have on area wildlife.
But every time a baby bird is jostled from its nest by a tree trimmer; a jack rabbit is cut by a weed eater as it nests in a brush pile, or a hawk is poisoned by common toxins – the delicate balance of natural preservation becomes ever more tenuous. Helping restore a sense of much-needed equilibrium is Placer County’s Gold Country Wildlife Rescue (GCWR).
Founded in 1982, the mission of GCWR is to: “Protect, preserve and rehabilitate Placer County’s diverse wildlife, while promoting human awareness of our wildlife and the ecosystems that we share,” says Program Director Diane Nicholas, adding that 90 percent of animals rescued and rehabilitated by the organization have sustained injuries due to human intervention.
“Casts for broken appendages, fluids for dehydration, eye exams for head traumas, stitches for open wounds, daily feedings and regular medicating are among the wound-specific treatments GCWR provides to injured wildlife in order to release them back into their native environments. The Department of Fish and Game can qualify animals with injuries too severe to survive on their own, to become GCWR’s education animals for the organization’s community outreach program.
GCWR is entirely staffed by concerned volunteers, many of whom donate parts of their properties to aid the nonprofit’s comprehensive rehabilitation process for all animals, with the exception of mountain lions and bears, which are transferred to the Tahoe area due to regulations put forth by the Department of Fish and Game. Volunteer efforts are made even more impressive given the amount of animals GCWR rescues annually – 1,100 in 2008 and 960 in 2009 – and the monetary challenges that the organization faces. GCWR relies on public donations to fund its rescue and rehabilitation efforts, with 100 percent of donations supporting animal care.
“Our group is dedicated to providing the best care to all wildlife in need,” Nicholas explains. “Most of the rehabbers donate their own funds for the care of these animals. We are on call 24/7 and handle many calls that come in to animal control and/or the Department of Fish and Game.” As the area continues to develop, inadvertently displacing animal populations, the sheer number of rescue calls GCWR receives – over 4,000 during last year alone – will likely increase.
To help GCWR establish a drop-off center for injured wildlife and further its education outreach efforts, the nonprofit will host a golf tournament at Winchester Golf and Country Club on May 11, 2010.
“Wildlife conservation is perhaps more humanitarian than Unitarian,” Nichols explains. “Future generations should have the opportunity to experience the wonder of a fawn grazing in the warmth of the afternoon sun. Pausing [to appreciate] nature provides a respite from the hectic pace of cell phones and emails. It also teaches children respect for all living creatures.”
For more information about the event, to make a donation, or for ways to get involved, contact Diane Nicholas at 916-847-1471.