Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis has been admitting a higher number of animal patients this spring.
Chantal Theijn, founder and authorized wildlife custodian at the refuge, said the increase is due to people staying home and having more time observe wildlife around them.
“Well, I don’t necessarily think there are more orphaned animals in the area, I do think more people are home,” said Theijn. “So, they’re seeing more, also a lot of wildlife is perceived orphaned but actually isn’t.
“Our intake of animals this year compared to last’s is up 35 per cent which is roughly nine patients a day, which is fairly significant,” said Theijn.
The refuge treated just over 2,000 animals last year.
“I strongly think we will exceed that this year,” Theijn said.
Hobbitstee has treated about 260 animals this year so far. Patients come in large waves on a daily basis, making treatment difficult due to the lack of accommodations within the facility.
Hobbitstee officials hope to build a new facility on a 10-acre property to provide structural upgrades that will allow a higher capacity of volunteers to help with services as well as improved accommodations for the animals and the people bringing them in.
“We currently have a bid on a property and if we end up getting that property, then we will be set for life,” said Theijn. “Sky’s the limit, we can only go up from there and make it as big and as crazy as we want.”
Hobbitstee frequently posts to social media about the animals in its care and their progress.
The refuge has recently rescued baby opossums after their mother was killed in a collision. Theijn says the babies, called joeys, are often still alive in the mother’s pouch that is well cushioned and safe.
Drivers who hit an opossum can safely pull over and use their foot or a gloved hand to examine the pouch for any young. If joeys are found, then individuals can place them a box or take the mother’s body with the babies still in the pouch to the facility where treatment can be done.
To date this year, 80 baby opossums have been saved and taken to Hobbitstee after the mothers were killed on the road.
Theijn says that the majority of wildlife that is cared for are in distress as a result from human activity. However, there is still a great sense of accomplishment of putting the animals back in the wild.
“I think returning wildlife to their habitat is the best thing ever.”