The Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) needs to build a new hospital and a flight pen to help eagles and other wildlife recover.
The society is trying to cope with a caseload that has nearly doubled over the years and has approached all three municipal councils requesting assistance.
“We’re out of space,” president Pearl McKenzie told Courtenay council Monday, Oct. 19. “There’s no room to expand. Quite frankly, some of us are wearing out.”
Last year, the society tended to about 40 at-risk species, including great blue herons.
Since 1995, the society has operated a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Merville. It has tended to hawks, ospreys, raccoons, minks, baby birds — and even the occasional pelican that flies off course. Most animals require care because they have been “negatively affected by humans,” McKenzie said.
The society has a fundraising goal of $222,000 to pay for the first phase of the project.
It needs council to support a funding application to the Island Coastal Economic Trust. Financial assistance from ICET would help build a wildlife eco-centre, which will contain a flight pen. The society hopes to start construction next spring.
“Even a small amount would be helpful,” said McKenzie, aware that city budgets are tight.
MARS founder/manager Maj Birch says a loss of habitat has had a “huge effect on all our wildlife,” in terms of animals being pushed away from their natural hunting areas.
For more information or to donate to MARS, call 250-337-2021 or visit wingtips.org.