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Boulder County’s Greenwood Wildlife Seeing an Increase in Animals Being Treated

September 1, 2018
A baby squirrel gets washed up after getting fed at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Longmont on Thursday. See more photos at dailycamera.com.
A baby squirrel gets washed up after getting fed at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Longmont on Thursday. See more photos at dailycamera.com.

How to help

To volunteer at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center visit http://www.greenwoodwildlife.org/get-involved/volunteer or to donate visit http://www.greenwoodwildlife.org/donate/.

Boulder County’s Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is on pace to treat a record number of animals this year, which officials say is likely a product of humans increasingly moving into animal territory and other rehab centers across the Front Range shutting down.

Greenwood Wildlife, 5761 Ute Highway, so far this year has treated more than 3,000 animals. The center usually only sees 2,500 animals at this time of year, and the previous high for the end of August was 2,840 in 2016. Lea Peshock, the center’s animal care supervisor, also added that the center is just starting baby squirrel season, which alone usually accounts for about 100 more animals.

“You think, 500 is not a lot more, but that is a ton of hours, a huge time commitment, and you are just having to work that much harder,” Peshock said. “It’s kind of like going from two kids to three. It might only be one more, but the work quadruples.”

There are likely two main reasons for the increase in animals coming into the center, Peshock said. The first is humans are continuing to move into what used to be wildlife territory, displacing animals.

“There’s a lot of building going on around the Front Range,” Peshock said. “As we continue to displace more and more animals, we’re finding rabbits in window wells from new construction. Foxes having babies in bushes are now having those babies in bushes that are in someone’s backyard.”

Peshock said the other factor is that a lot of other wildlife rehab centers in Colorado have been closing in recent years, so Greenwood is now getting more animals from outside Boulder County.

“We’ve lost a lot of rehabbers and rehab centers along the Front Range,” Peshock said. “We used to have a lot more help.”

With the increase in animals comes an increase in cost and labor for Greenwood.

“We’re constantly trying to get more volunteers to feed all the extra mouths,” Peshock said. “And it always costs more money to feed more babies, buy more supplies and caging and things like that.”

With more animals coming in, Greenwood has had to expand its facilities. In September, the center will start work on expanding its crow and water fowl aviary.

Expanding the crow aviary will allow Greenwood to house large birds like crows up until their release, Peshock said. Right now, Greenwood has to transfer the birds to Bird of Prey Foundation in Broomfield after their initial recovery.

“They need space to build up their muscles before we release them, and right now we just don’t have a big enough space,” Peshock said. “Enlarging it will mean less stress on the animal, since we don’t have to transfer them.”

The expanded aviary will cost $35,000, and Chelsea Barrett, Greenwood’s communications and marketing manager, said the center was able to raise more than $23,000 toward the aviary through this year’s Wildlife Wednesday fundraiser.

Barrett said the rest of the cost was covered by various other funding sources.

But rather than simply continuing to expand, Peshock also said Greenwood is hoping to educate people so they can try to reduce the number of animals coming in.

“We trying to do different (public service announcements) at different times of the year,” Peshock said. “Like telling people to put screens on their window wells so baby bunnies don’t fall down. Or asking people to do tree trimming in winter or late fall so they are not cutting down trees with baby squirrels in them. Or securing their chimney and attics so they don’t have raccoons.”

“We’re really trying to get the public involved.”

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars

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