Western Canada's largest wildlife rescue facility is struggling to handle heavy caseloads and hoping Burnaby residents will volunteer to help injured and orphaned animals.
The Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., which is located next to Burnaby Lake, is preparing for the busy summer months and needs people to answer the phones.
"We're looking for people who can remain calm under stressful situations," said volunteer coordinator Stefanie Broad. "(The) majority of the caseload comes in the summer months when the birds migrate back up north and breed."
Last year, the association helped more than 4,000 animals. Roughly 80 per cent are birds and the remaining 20 per cent are mammals. The association receives more than 100 calls a day from people reporting animals in distress or conflicts with wildlife, and there's only one staff member to answer them.
"Hence why we need help on the help line," Broad added.
The centre put volunteer and Burnaby resident Dale Johnston on the phone lines to help with the calls. The trial proved successful, and now the association is hoping to recruit more volunteers to answer the phones.
"I got to hold a bird while they gave it an injection. If you are a transport volunteer (driving animals to the centre), you don't get to touch the bird, let alone see it. This is way more exciting," she said.
Johnston, who has been volunteering with the association since October, mostly fields calls about injured animals or wildlife conflicts. She also does intake and makes sure the animals get help right away.
Johnston said it's particularly rewarding when a bird is freed after spending time at the rehabilitation centre.
"It makes you feel good," she said. "It makes you feel like a super hero."
Besides the phone line work, the association is also looking for volunteers to help with cleaning, preparing food for the animals and monitoring the "patients."
The association is asking for a minimum commitment of six months to work on the phone line, and three months for other volunteer positions.
Interested applicants can fill out a form on the association's website, www.wildliferescue.ca, under the Volunteer tab. Volunteers don't necessarily need prior experience with animals, and the association provides training.
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