The team at Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre at Ile des Chenes is making urgent modifications in order to deal with what has been an exceptionally busy year.

Executive Director Zoe Nakata says they are nearly at capacity for wildlife patients needing help, having experienced a 21 per cent patient increase in 2021.

Wildlife Haven is a non-profit, charitable organization treating sick, orphaned and injured wildlife from all over Manitoba since 1984. Since its inception, the team has treated more than 50,000 wild animals. In 2019 they moved into their new campus and in July of this year opened their accredited wildlife veterinary hospital, the first of its kind in Manitoba.

According to Nakata, they have already treated more than 3,045 wild animal patients in 2021. And, she says they expect the trend of growing numbers to continue all winter.

Nakata says there are probably a few reasons why numbers are up this year. She attributes the steep increase in part to severe climates such as droughts and wind storms. Nakata says human impact is also a concern, with window strikes, car collisions and electrocutions a few of the injuries they see all too often. She notes it could also just be that people are spending more time outdoors during the pandemic and therefore noticing more wildlife in distress.

The unprecedented number of patients is the highest the charity has ever seen. For the first time since moving to their new campus in 2019, the organization is experiencing capacity concerns.

"All of a sudden all of our regular care rooms are full and they are full with long term patients," she notes. "We've been moving some boxes around and finding nooks and crannies around the campus and trying to see how we can flex our space because the reality is that these patients keep coming every single day."

Nakata says just recently they took in a pelican that was stuck in ice and rescued by a Good Samaritan. The bird needs treatment for frostbite on its wing and will also need its feathers to grow back. They also have a great horned owl that was involved in a collision, as well as an eagle with a fractured wrist. Other patients include an otter, beavers, geese and red-tailed hawks.

The Executive Director has two requests from the public. First, she says if you happen to find an animal in distress, never hesitate to call them at 204-878-3740. Secondly, she notes if people want to help out during this busy time, they can gladly donate money. Nakata says donations help the Centre get medications and food for the animals, as well as purchase specialty tools and equipment, or even crates and penning.