Wildlife babies, orphans displaced from homes find solace at SWCC

Baby javelinas are among the influx of young animals at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. Photos by Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia

From an influx of bottle-fed babies to an overflow of orphans, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is busy caring for an abundance of animals.

Much like a baby-filled nursery, SWCC staff are providing around-the-clock care, taking turns nurturing little ones on site and fostering in homes. Many orphaned animals this summer include raccoons, baby bears, coyotes and even skunks.

Raccoons taking refuge at SWCC.

Caring for a multitude of young animals is not uncommon during this season. However, there is a recent, overwhelming increase as 50% of it is attributed to weather, real estate development and fires nearby, according to officials who cite “larger than usual influx of orphaned baby animals, right now, in need of rehabilitation” at the north Scottsdale center.

“Oh my gosh, yes! This is a busy time of the year when we get all the orphans and little guys and babies. Every year is different, but this year we see an increase,” said SWCC Animal Care Manager Kim Carr.

SWCC Founder/Executive Director Linda Searles told the Independent that the influx of native animals often occurs “when food and foraging is more plentiful.”

She said many of the wild animals, taking refuge at the center, have been displaced by the fires.

“We have a lot going on in our state right now and in some of these cases the mothers and their babies have literally been forced out of their homes and the babies end up lost and orphaned,” said Ms. Searles.

“We are seeing dozens of more babies than what we normally see this time of year. It’s important that we work to get these young animals rehabilitated quickly so they can be re-released back in to the wild when possible and the cycle of life can continue for these animals.”

She noted how monetary donations are always appreciated from the public as it helps pay for such things as medication, medical supplies, formula, baby supplies and food among other things.

“Every single mammal here has certain different kinds of formulas and their formula is more expensive than human formula,” Ms. Carr said of those requiring bottle feeding to receive proper nutrients.

Lately, she noticed that the formula has even been going out of stock for those who carry the commodity or on back order, which makes feeding tasks more complicated for SWCC staff when formula is not readily available.

She said there is whole sheet in the “baby room” on how to prepare various formulas and menus.

“You have to keep on top of it,” Ms. Carr said. “I am staying up late and getting up early.”

Baby skunk

She described many of the newborns like the skunks as being “little, hairless, helpless things” that may weigh about 40 grams and “a little bit bigger than your thumb.”

The raccoons, which the center has experienced an influx of as well, can be “itty-bitty, too.” Most of the newborns are so small that they must be fed with a dropper.

“We have all the babies here,” Ms. Carr said. “Skunks are showing up right now. I am caring for three with their eyes still closed.”

She added that there are more than 50 babies in the center’s care. They are running out of enough crates to accommodate the growing need and “never had this many raccoons.”

“We are going to have to construct more pens this year,” Ms. Searles said, noting the temporary enclosures used to accommodate the influx.

Plus, the influx of orphaned animals includes three orphaned brown bear cubs whose mother was recently hit and killed by a car in southern Arizona. After being rehabilitated, the intent is to safely release them back in to the wild.

Ms. Searles described a “very robust population here” as the center receives, rehabs and often releases the raccoons, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, javelinas, mountain lions and bears that make up the nearly 350 animal census at SWCC, many of whom were rescued and brought in by various police and fire personnel, Arizona Game and Fish Department employees, trappers, and veterinary hospital staff.

Coyote pup

She and Ms. Carr were thankful for the staff and volunteers who devote their time and efforts to assist at the non-profit wildlife refuge near 156th Street and Rio Verde Drive in Scottsdale.

The center, which operates and depends on public support, offers public tours, small group outings and special events. Donations and grants keep the facility open with trained volunteers and veterinarians caring for the animals 24/7.

The establishment began in 1994 to rescue and rehabilitate injured, displaced, and orphaned wildlife. After animals are rehabilitated, they are returned to their natural habitats in the wild, while sanctuary is provided to animals unable to return to the wild.

To donate or for more information on how to sponsor an animal: southwestwildlife.org.

Independent Newsmedia News Services Specialist Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at dford@newszap.com.

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