Jun 1, 2021

Where The Wild Things Are

SHARE:

Entering its 20th year, DCHS Wildlife Center continues its mission to rehabilitate native birds, reptiles and other creatures big and small.

In the fall of 2002, Dane County Humane Society Kennel Manager Dave Madden and Animal Services Officer Pat Comfert approached Executive Director Pam McCloud Smith with the idea to house and rehabilitate injured wild animals.

Back then, wildlife in need of medical care were taken to the Emergency Clinic for Animals, now Madison Veterinary Specialists. However, that facility had limited space, and DCHS was not yet allowed to house wildlife in its building.

DCHS already had a barn, built in 1999, to lodge horses, livestock and feral cats. Pam designated one stall of the barn for wildlife rehabilitation, and Dave and Pat took responsibility for taking care of and treating patients. Thus began the Wildlife Center at DCHS and its gradual expansion into what it has become today.

By 2012, 10 years after the Wildlife Center opened, the facility had experienced a 65-percent increase in wildlife intake. Patients went from being housed in a single stall to expanding into the entire barn space. With over 1,500 wildlife admitted each year, the barn was no longer large enough to treat the large volume of animals coming in.

Soon, plans were underway to construct a separate facility for the wildlife center. A new horse and livestock barn opened in 2016, and the old barn was remodeled to treat and house wildlife. The remodel included a songbird room, new concrete floors, plumbing for outdoor sinks and indoor restrooms, a large kitchen and food prep area, and a new furnace and air conditioner system to improve temperature control.

The Wildlife Center at DCHS is now the third largest facility of its kind in the state of Wisconsin. More than 3,800 wild patients are admitted annually, representing more than 100 species of native birds, reptiles and amphibians. In almost 20 years, nearly 30,000 creatures have been treated.

The staff are fully licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to treat the in-coming patients.

The Wildlife Center sees a number of turtles that need to recover from injuries caused by collisions with vehicles and other mishaps. More than 3,800 creatures representing 100 species of native birds, reptiles and amphibians are treated annually.

These talented people provide top-notch medical care to wildlife, and they are qualified to perform a variety of diagnostic and surgical services. They are designated wildlife rehabilitation sponsors who help train the next generation of professionals, including interns, apprentices, and University of Wisconsin-Madison veterinary students.

In addition, The Wildlife Center has up to 200 volunteers during the peak season, and they are truly the backbone of the operation. Volunteers not only care for patients, but also answer questions from the public, assist with fundraising and even raise worms and other food used to feed the wildlife. Some are even dedicated to helping transport and rescue injured wildlife, and they bring them back to the Wildlife Center for examinations.

There is no fee to bring an animal to the Wildlife Center, which receives no state or federal funding. Its money comes solely from fundraising. With the average cost to care for each animal at about $100, donations are critical to continuing to provide these animals with care.

The Wildlife Center, which will mark its 20-year anniversary in 2022, remains a significant part of DCHS, thanks to its staff, volunteers and generous donors. They are all passionate about the creatures they help bring back to good health so they may be returned to their natural habitats.

Learn more about the Wildlife Center here.

Next Story

Jun 28th, 2024

Help Cupid Heal!

Cupid is suffering from a large wound on his back that can’t heal without your help, and we have several other cats and kittens in care who need extended veterinary attention. Will you help them heal?

Full Story

Next Story

Jun 27th, 2024

From Potato to Chipmunk

After mistaking him for a potato, this chipmunk's finder didn't know whether he would recover. Luckily, she got him to DCHS's Wildlife Center.

Full Story

Next Story

Jun 27th, 2024

Have Stethoscope, Will Travel

Helping Fellow Animal Groups Save Lives: DCHS’s new program provides medical care and surgical services to other shelters and rescues in need.

Full Story

Next Story

Jun 27th, 2024

Going the Distance for a Second Chance

Read about four animals whose lives were transformed when they were transferred to DCHS to receive ongoing veterinary care.

Full Story

Next Story

Jun 25th, 2024

Annual Meeting and Celebration

DCHS staff and volunteers celebrated milestone achievements and recognized outstanding volunteers, fundraisers, and partners at the 2024 Annual Meeting.

Full Story

Next Story

May 20th, 2024

A Soft Landing for Rocket

When senior dog Rocket needed time outside of the shelter, one of DCHS’s foster families immediately stepped up. Now, she’s thriving in her new home.

Full Story