Wildlife rehab center in Driggs in desperate need of donations and volunteers
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DRIGGS — Idaho’s growing population has meant more development and more traffic, both leading to an increase in injured wildlife.
The Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which serves the Snake River Plain and greater Yellowstone ecosystem, is one of few wildlife care facilities in the region. Based in Driggs, the closest similar facility is about 350 miles away, in Boise, according to Outreach and Development Director Victoria Plasse.
Increases in population and human activity over the past two years in eastern Idaho and the surrounding region have greatly increased the need for local volunteers to become animal rehabilitators at the center. A rehabilitator is a volunteer who works with experts at the facility on the care of wild animals.
Officials say they also need more room since the facility itself is almost at its occupancy.
“The demand for our services has just exponentially increased in the last two years,” Plasse told EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s been nuts, we’re maxed out. We need more enclosures, we need more volunteers. We need folks that want to work with animals, or help on clean-up duty or manual labor.”
The center will host its first in-person volunteer event since before the COVID-19 pandemic this Sunday in Driggs. Assistance will be needed in all forms, as the facility transitions for the season change.
This event comes as the center nears a crossroad. The current facility, which was donated by the Herrop family, of Driggs, in 2017, no longer meets the requirements necessary to treat animals, because it is so full, said Kristin Combs, a member of the center’s board and executive director of Wyoming Wildlife advocates, in a news release.
“The next few months will decide if and to what extent we can continue to offer this vital service to our wildlife,” Combs said in the release. “Our enclosures are full, and some of the injuries we have seen with our wildlife have been critical. With that, the need for a structure has been critical.”
With the Snake River Plain and Teton Valley serving as a popular migration area for waterfowl and songbirds, one of the center’s biggest needs right now is a larger bird enclosure.
The Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is operating in its sixth year, Plasse said. And with demand constantly growing, is in the process of finding a full-time rehabilitator. Currently, all rehabilitators and staff are volunteers, working to help injured animals in their free time.
The center operates on a two-pronged approach. First to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured wild animals.
“The second part of our mission is to try to educate folks on how to be better at living with your wild neighbors because we need to do a better job of that. They were here first,” Plasse said.
Even stretched to its limits, the center has been able to cycle injured animals toward safe releases. Just this week, rehabilitators released four skunks and 10 raccoons. Still, there are 49 more animals currently being cared for.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the rehab center or about the event on Sunday can find information at TetonWildlife.org.
Donations can be made to the Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center here.