A pelican, an otter and an eagle: Manitoba wildlife hospital seeing a spike in patients

An injured eagle is receiving care at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre as the facility is seeing an increase in animals requiring care. (Source: Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre/Facebook)

A Manitoba wildlife hospital is concerned about the high influx of animals coming through their doors needing help.

The Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre said capacity has become an issue due to an increased number of patients which is made more problematic because the time animals spend in recovery is often longer in the winter months.

“We’re having to really adjust our plan and our rooms and really shift gears, and as you can imagine puts a strain on our resources,” said Zoe Nakata, executive director of the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre.

Nakata said the centre currently has about 45 animals in care and some are quite big and need a significant amount of resources.

For example, a great grey owl currently in care needs a full-flight cage to itself. Other animals recently brought to the centre include an otter who is recovering from a dog attack, an eagle with a wrist fracture and a pelican suffering from frostbite after getting stuck in the ice.

“So as they are coming in, our team is meeting quite often to re-examine our room plan and our care plans to make sure our resources are allocated properly,” said Nakata. “It is varying significantly from what I’d call our typical plan for our typical winter.”

Reasons for the centre’s 21 per cent increase in animal admissions are varied, but severe weather has been a factor.

Nakata said drought conditions along with strong wind events have led to some injuries, as has the recent snowfall. In addition there are the ever-present human-related injuries like vehicle collisions, electrocutions and window strikes.

Nakata also believes awareness of the centre is playing a role.

“As people are learning about us and are learning that we do have an accredited vet hospital now and we do have a full team of qualified rehabbers maybe they’ll stop and pick up that snowy owl on the side of the road that seems distressed,” Nakata said.

The centre still has capacity and Nakata said contingency plans are in place so any animal that requires care can get it.

The organization is also looking for donations to help pay for the approximate $50 a day cost per animal in care. It doesn’t receive any government funding and is reliant on private and corporate donations and partnerships to keep their doors open.