The masks for sale in Critter Care Wildlife Society's recently launched online store depict the noses and mouths of animals that recently spent time in the facility's care, including a raccoon, an otter and a black bear. (crittercarestore.org)

With cloth face masks becoming an increasingly common part of daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, a B.C. wildlife rehabilitation centre is hoping to capitalize on the trend while also raising money for its cause.

The masks for sale in Critter Care Wildlife Society's recently launched online store depict the noses and mouths of animals that recently spent time in the facility's care, including a raccoon, an otter and a black bear.

Nathan Wagstaffe is a senior wildlife technician with Critter Care. He told CTV News Vancouver the society was looking for ways to support its work during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided that masks should be among the apparel it sold to raise funds.

The idea to put animal faces on the masks came from a desire to make them unique, he said.

"We wondered how we would be able to make it more individual and our own, put our own stamp on it," Wagstaffe said. "(It's) very whimsical, a lot of fun, but also goes towards a good place as well so we can help these kinds of animals."

In normal years, a significant chunk of Critter Care's funding comes from in-person fundraising events. The society hosts an annual gala that can bring in as much as $100,000 and an open house that also generates significant donations.

"Obviously with COVID, we have to shut all of them down," Wagstaffe said. "It's altered the way we do things."

The effects of the pandemic haven't only been financial, he added. Much of the day-to-day operation of Critter Care is done with the help of interns, many of whom come from other countries to learn about North American wildlife and how to do the work the society does.

"I think we have nine at the moment, whereas typically we have 25, and it's mainly because the majority of the ones that we get are international," Wagstaffe said. "We would have people from Germany, France, America, Australia, but no one can anymore, which is perfectly understandable and the way that things are at the moment, but that has impacted us drastically as well, because we rely on them to be able to do what we can do for these animals."

He encouraged B.C. residents interested in interning with the society to apply online.

For those looking to help Critter Care from afar, the society's online store has a wide variety of items in addition to the animal face masks. There are also t-shirts, hoodies, bags and laptop and phone cases, among other products.

"We reached out to a lot of our fan-base - our volunteers, interns, staff - and asked them what products they would most-likely use," Wagstaffe said.

The masks are likely the most unique offering available. If they prove to be popular, Wagstaffe said, Critter Care will probably add other animals as they come through the facility.

"So far, the sales of them have been good," he said. "And, of course, all of the money that we make on top of it all comes to Critter Care and to help aid the animals that people are walking around with on their faces."