Amount Requested: $10,000 for General Operating Support
Mission: To rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife native to Virginia; to educate the citizens of Central Virginia regarding what to do with orphaned and injured wildlife; and to educate the public about the needs of wildlife and their habitats.
Constituents Served: In terms of wildlife rehabilitation, we have two intersecting populations that we serve: the orphaned or injured native wildlife of Virginia, and the people of Central Virginia who find these animals and call us for help. We treated 667 animals (73 different species) in 2015. Additionally, we receive thousands of calls each year from people who have found an animal, or are unsure what to do. We also provide education to many more through our semi-annual newsletter, website, community programs, classroom visits, and educational displays at community events. In 2015, RWS made presentations or brought education animals to 26 events and had contact with approximately 1400 people.
We finished building our new animal care facility, built 18 outdoor enclosures (and are building 4 more), and were able to move into our new location at the start of the busy season in March, 2015! This was a phenomenal event, and we are so appreciative of the huge amount of physical work, financial support, and encouragement from many that allowed us to reach this amazing goal!
Program Overview: Our funding request is specifically for the acquisition of a utility vehicle. In our new location, we have built 18 outdoor animal enclosures for the songbirds, raptors, waterfowl, mammals and reptiles in our care, and are in the process of building 4 more enclosures. The enclosures are located in a 3-acre section of our 19-acre property.
It is important that the animals in our care be exposed to minimal contact with humans, and this means they are at a distance from our main building so that only humans involved in their care come to their enclosures. These enclosures also have to be separated from each other, too, again to reduce stress on the animals: in their natural habitat, wild animals have choice as to how close they are to other species, and we try to simulate this. Having these enclosures in isolated settings means that the staff and volunteers must travel greater distances to provide the food, bedding, water, and supplies the animals need. A utility vehicle will allow the staff to carry clean water, straw, and food to the animals, and carry away the used bedding much more easily. Animals are brought to RWS in large travel cases, and a utility vehicle will make it easier on both the staff and the animals to get to the outdoor enclosures, and also to be put back in the travel cases when they are healthy enough to be released back into their natural habitat. The utility vehicle will be electric so that the animals are not exposed to the engine sounds and the exhaust from the engine. The vehicle will also need to be 4-wheel drive to safely navigate the area in all weather.
Providing a safe, secure, and low-stress environment is essential for healthy development of wildlife and for their successful rehabilitation. Currently, we have only one year-round full-time employee, and an additional full-time employee during the March-September busy season. We have additional help from summer college interns and amazing animal care volunteers. Having this utility vehicle will make their work so much easier, and this, in turn, translates into better care for the animals.
Our mission also includes providing educational programming through our newsletter, website, and public talks. Now that we are settled into our new facility, we are looking to expand our educational offerings to a wider audience of schools and community groups.
Current Operating Budget: $127,215