MARS is currently caring for 14 orphaned fawns. Photo supplied.

MARS is currently caring for 14 orphaned fawns. Photo supplied.

It’s baby season at MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre in Comox Valley

Cash-strapped non-profit in need of donations

The Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) Wildlife Rescue Centre is putting out an urgent appeal for donations as they struggle with a growing caseload of wildlife baby patients in their wildlife hospital.

There are baby birds, including robins, crows, ducklings, a turkey vulture, heron and even a pygmy owl, as well as young mammals like a tiny mink, fawns and raccoons.

Currently, MARS is caring for 14 orphaned fawns and more are anticipated with birthing season still underway. Each fawn is bottle fed formula four to five times a day. As they grow, they are introduced to grain pellets and browse from native plants so they learn to live independently in the wild.

Caregivers vocalize when approaching the pen and fawns quickly learn this means feeding time. Fawns need contact with another mammal to develop normally so they will try to nuzzle the caregivers. However, since bacteria on human skin is toxic to these baby patients, the feeders must wear gowns and gloves to prevent the fawns from getting sick. Caregivers ensure that the fawns get to interact with each other and, with this number of fawns in care, there is always company.

MARS is currently caring for 22 orphaned raccoon kits. Photo supplied.

In its second year of caring for baby raccoons, MARS now has 22 kits ranging in age from two weeks to almost three months. These babies are also fed five times a day, and the team is trying to build appropriate housing for them as fast as possible, but resources are incredibly stretched.

When handling them for feeding, caregivers scratch up the baby raccoon’s fur, like the mother would, and the kits begin to “purr,” which signals they are ready for feeding.

Raccoons are very vocal and have a wide range of sounds they make to express emotional stages. Even at this young age they growl.

Raccoons use their hands very much like humans to grasp things. The kits learn to climb very early, climbing up the sides of their cages regularly and love to use the caregivers for this purpose whenever possible! These raccoons will remain in the care of MARS until the late fall when they are old enough to be released.

MARS would like to thank everyone that has donated so far, but if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to give this season, they would much appreciate monetary assistance to enable them to house, feed and purchase medications and veterinary care for these little wildlife patients.

More information about patients can be found at the MARS’ Visitor Centre, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, at 1331 Williams Beach Road in Merville.