Reg Westcott takes one final look at the young barn owl before releasing it back into the wild.

Reg Westcott takes one final look at the young barn owl before releasing it back into the wild.

The amazing work of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society

Fundraising breakfast Friday, downtown Thrifty Foods

  • Aug. 10, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

 

Reg Westcott, supervisor of wildlife care at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, released a young barn owl back into the wilderness Thursday afternoon.

“It was a baby that had fallen from its nest,” said MARS manager Robert McLennan, of the rescue at 19 Wing, two months ago. “Luckily it was still alive.”

MARS staff did the original assessment, then shipped the owlet down-Island to The Raptors, an avian recovery/rehab centre in Duncan, for it to be nursed to a stage where it stands a good change of survival.

“They got it to the point where it could fly, where it could feed itself, then brought it back to us for release,” said McLennan.

It was one of two releases MARS had last week.

On Friday, MARS workers released a young eagle, after eight days of rehab.

“That one was a fledgling who didn’t successfully fledge, so it was on the ground when we found it,” said McLennan. “He was emaciated and covered in parasites. So we spent eight days removing the interior and exterior parasites… it proved to us it had the ability to fly… and we released it.”

For an outsider, these are great stories, or at very least, ideal photo ops.

For those associated with MARS, it’s just another day of work.

For the past 21 years, the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society has been operating its Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on Headquarters Road, southwest of Merville.

The MARS objective is two-pronged: To provide a safe, stress-free environment for wildlife to recover; and to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of wildlife by participating in research, and sharing information with wildlife and professional organizations, and the general public through meetings, lectures, displays, workshops, seminars, conferences, reports and publications.

The MARS team comprises four regular staff members (one full-time, three part-time) and three student staffers this summer, all with zoology and/or biology backgrounds.

“Then we generally have two or three volunteers at any time,” said McLennan.

There is no vet on hand. All veterinarian procedures are handled off-site, through a couple of vets who offer their services to the society.

Currently there are 13 birds in the facility.

McLennan said the barn owl incident is a perfect example of how the new facility will help. Once the team moves into its new home, birds will not have to be shipped down-Island for tasks as simple as weaning and learning to fly.

“That’s one of the reasons we are so excited about moving to this new facility, because then we will be able to do the work ourselves,” he said.

MARS will be moving into its new 11-acre wildlife hospital and interpretive centre in the spring of 2017. Total cost of the facility is estimated at $1.5 million. MARS is halfway to its fundraising goal for the new facility.

MARS relies on public funding, grants and donations to remain soluble. The Comox Valley Record, Thrifty Foods and Royston Roasting are hosting another Caring for a Cause breakfast in the parking lot of the downtown Thrifty, Friday morning 8-10 a.m., with all proceeds going to MARS.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left - Rev. Sulin Milne, rector of St Peter’s, Karen Cummins and Bill Henderson of Nature Comox Valley pose for a photo with the newly-planted Garry oak tree. Photo supplied
Young Garry oak planted at St. Peter’s church gardens as a sign of resiliency

By Tony Reymolds Special to The Record St Peter’s Anglican Church, Comox,… Continue reading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Most Read