Where the Wild Things Are
Situated along the Blue Ridge Mountains where Shenandoah National Park meets the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waynesboro is next door to one of the East Coast’s largest wildlife sanctuaries. As the weather warms up and the days lengthen, many species begin to migrate, give birth, and graze for food. This increased level of wildlife activity means people are more likely to encounter animals in everyday situations. If you find a wild animal, which is visibly injured, or you suspect is ill, whom do you call?
Wildlife Rescuers of Waynesboro
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, located in Waynesboro, gives injured and orphaned native animals a second chance at life in the wild. Since it first opened in 1982, the Wildlife Center of Virginia has treated more than 80,000 animals. As a hospital for wildlife, their mission is to teach the world to care about and to care for wildlife and the environment. The Center has been honored with a National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation.
The Bear Cubs: Back In The Wild
Three black bear cubs (rescued and rehabilitated in 2019) were recently released back into the wild. The yearlings were tagged for future identification and fled into their natural habitat when released April 27, 2020. Black Bear cub #19-0492 (White Tag) was admitted at the Wildlife Center April 19, 2019 after being observed roaming near a populated shopping area. As there was no safe place for her to await the return of her mother, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries delivered her to the Wildlife Center. Over her 375-day stay she grew from 1.78 kg to 33.9 kg and is now a healthy, vibrant yearling. The stories of the Cubs of 2019 are documented in the Critter Corner section of the Wildlife Center of Virginia website.
Everyone Loves Babies
Psst! Can we show you our favorite online cams? The Wildlife Center of Virginia maintains three Critter Cams that allow us to peek in on the animals whenever we want. Critter Cam 1 features members of the animal ambassador team like Buddy the Bald Eagle and Athena the Barred Owl. Buddy was born famous thanks to his livestreamed “EagleCam” hatching at Norfolk Botanical Garden in 2008. He developed a lesion soon after hatching that was discovered to be Avian Pox. The Wildlife Center treated Buddy but a permanent misalignment of his beak requires regular trimming, making him non-releasable.
For a gush of “aww!” click to Critter Cam 2 or 3 where 2020’s baby Black Bear cubs frolic in the large mammal isolation enclosure. There are currently 12 cubs to watch, and their stories mimic that of White Tag – separated from mama bear.
Untamed and On-Air
New to the Wildlife Center of Virginia is a television series called “Untamed.” Airing through American Public Television and available through Virginia Public Media’s YouTube channel, each episode includes a companion guide with additional resources about the featured species and activities for students. Season two premieres May 21, 2020.
Advice for Wildlife Encounters
If you encounter wildlife you believe to be injured or abandoned, call the Wildlife Center of Virginia for direction at 540-942-9453. Staff is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. If you find a baby animal, usually it is best to leave it alone. That’s because not every baby animal needs to be rescued; some species leave their young in a quiet spot, returning just a few times over the course of the day. For example, if you encounter a newborn fawn, do not immediately assume that it needs to be rescued just because it is alone. Mark the spot where the fawn was spotted and leave. Return the next day. If the fawn is in the exact same spot, then it’s possible something happened to its mother, and then call the center to speak to a trained volunteer. You can learn more about when intervention is necessary by seeking Help and Advice.
Visit the Wildlife Center
Due to its operation as a wildlife hospital and rehabilitation center, the Wildlife Center of Virginia is not open for public tours or visits, except during scheduled Open House events. If you’d like to visit, bookmark the Open House Information page to learn of future dates. If you’d like to read more about the center, to volunteer, donate or learn more about getting involved, please visit The Wildlife Center of Virginia.
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