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Back To The Wild- Fayetteville's Wildlife Rescues


            Wildlife preservation has been a major area of concern for decades now. However, it seems that the endeavor of taking care of our wildlife has seen little to no positive change. We can see that the years of neglect, unaddressed issues with pollution and poaching and the encroachment of modern development into the natural habitats of these animals have done their damage and left these creatures with dwindling resources, without space and in the saddest of cases, orphaned. In the last 40 years alone we have lost or brought about the near extinction of the Javan Tiger, the Spix’s Macaw and the Round Island Burrowing Boa. The West African Black Rhinoceros was declared extinct as recently as 2006. So now, as with so many other things, it is left to today’s generation to prevent any more losses and to preserve what is left of life in the wild. But, where do we to start?

            When we delve into the topic of wildlife, most conjure up images of majestic cats, massive elephants and long-necked giraffes and seldom realize that the wildlife right off of our front porch (and sometimes under it) need just as much help as these exotic animals. What about the rabbits, squirrels and possums that get clipped by a car or caught by a cat or whose parents meet with an even less friendly fate? Where do they get their help? This sort-of “homegrown” wildlife could definitely use our assistance and could eventually lead to a greater outreach. 

            North Carolina is doing their part when it comes to the care of these small mammals, birds and reptiles. Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary located in Hubert, North Carolina is a full service rehabilitation and treatment center dedicated not only to the animals themselves but also to the education of humans when it comes to our interaction with them.

            Let us be presented with a scenario: a young girl sees a cute little bunny innocently munching on something from her mothers garden. Caught up in how adorable the little thing is, she goes over and picks it up, excited to have found a lovable new pet. She takes him inside and feeds him some carrots and makes a little home for him in the laundry basket. Unbeknownst to her, this little guy will likely form an imprint with her, becoming emotionally and physically dependent on her. In the wild, mammals and birds are wired to form this bond with their mothers. Unfortunately for this little girl, her mother doesn’t let her keep the bunny and makes her take him back outside, far away from her garden. This young animal is now lost, lonely and feeling a high level of emotional stress. Animals, such as this bunny, can be very social and need to be surrounded by others of their kind. When separated and isolated they can develop severe health and emotional issues. At the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary, they strive to provide the education that could prevent something like this from happening.      

            Operating as part of the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary is the Second Chance Wildlife Rescue here in Fayetteville. Carrie Kiger runs the rehabilitation center and plays host to many small mammals. Stepping up to the enclosure you can find anything from bunnies to possums to goats. Second Chance has the resources and knowledge needed to prevent imprinting and domestication. They take in countless injured or orphaned animals. Then Second Chance treats them with the proper antibiotics and watches them grow in a safe environment until they are ready to be released back into the wild. In other words, they take them in wild, raise them wild and release them wild.             Another member of the Second Chance Wildlife Rescue, Helen Mika, said that she “loved having the opportunity to see a little baby grow up and be free. It is hurtful when we let them go but it is rewarding.” It is a genuine love for animals that drives these facilities to continue their non-profit work, especially since they rely solely on donations and help from volunteers. At the Second Chance Wildlife Rescue, interested groups can schedule a class to learn about these animals, what makes them important to our ecosystem and can sign up to become a volunteer or sponsor an animal. Both Carrie and Helen are in their 70s and find it increasingly difficult to run the center on their own and welcome any and all outreach.

            This is where we can start. Here, close to home and with these small mammals. It seems like a small contribution in the grand scheme of species extinction but it’s a place to make a change and a place to become better educated all while surrounding ourselves with these interesting but misunderstood animals.

            Volunteers can become involved at either the Second Chance Wildlife Rescue, the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary or a third location at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter which is located in Jacksonville, North Carolina.