Project Wildlife rehabilitates San Diego’s native creatures.
Owls, foxes, and falcons, oh my! It’s not only humans who appreciate the finer things that America’s Finest City has to offer.
“San Diego has the most diverse wildlife of any city in the United States,” says Trish Jackman, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Project Wildlife, a new adopted program of San Diego Humane Society. Since 1972, Project Wildlife has been dedicated to helping native animals—caring for injured, orphaned, and sick wildlife, with a goal of releasing rehabilitated animals back into their natural habitats.
In 2014, nearly 10,000 animals—from opossums to owls and rabbits to raccoons—made their way through Project Wildlife’s doors at a cost of roughly $65 per animal. More than three-quarters were birds, from song birds and shore birds to birds of prey and hummingbirds. Roughly 40 percent made it back into their natural habitat, a number that Jackman says is above the national average.
“Our goal—and a state requirement—is to rehabilitate an animal back to 100 percent capacity before we release it into the wild,” she says.
Although the reality is that many animals are too sick or injured to return to the wild, the work of Project Wildlife is critical to the survival of the various species that call San Diego home. As the only resource in the county for the majority of wildlife to receive help, Project Wildlife provides an invaluable service to animals.
With the assistance of supervising veterinarian Jane Meier, DVM, a small staff of 10, roughly 70 satellite rehabilitation sites, and a stable of 300-plus volunteers, Project Wildlife was revitalized by its recent merger with San Diego Humane Society, and is dedicated to furthering its lifesaving mission through education and advocacy for the animals that called San Diego home long before human intervention.
Wildlife What Ifs
Do you know what to do if you discover injured wildlife? Be aware of the following.
It’s against the law to relocate an animal. Wildlife animals are protected by state and federal law. For this reason, organizations like Project Wildlife must release rehabilitated animals within miles of where they were found.
It’s illegal to rehabilitate an animal at home or keep it as a pet. Best intentions aside, it’s illegal to try to nurse an ill or injured wild animal back to health.
The best first step is safe containment. If you come across an injured wild animal, contain it with gloves, a towel, and a box with air holes. Keep it warm, safe, and dark; do not feed it. Bring it to Project Wildlife as soon as possible.
Keep an eye out for mom. Sometimes healthy baby animals appear orphaned. Watch over a baby bird or bunny for a few hours before attempting a rescue; what may appear to be an orphan, may have a watchful parent nearby.
For more info: projectwildlife.org