As the snowbirds start to stream down south for the winter, so do the snow birds. Here at Peace River Wildlife Center, we have noticed an increase in migrating avian species. We are starting to see wood storks, hawks and songbirds that pass into and through Southwest Florida because of our mild winter weather.
It’s also hard to miss the longer lines at the grocery stores and increased traffic on the roads as the seasonal residents return. Yes, all of our friends (people and birds) are heading back to town — and unfortunately, sometimes they run into and over each other.
That’s where PRWC comes in. When an injured bird comes in, we rehabilitate it and try to get it back out into the wild as quickly as possible so that it can resume its migration or not miss breeding season. Many of our year round resident raptors — great horned owls, eagles, etc. — are getting ready to start building or repairing nests and breeding.
But we can’t rehab these injured birds until they are delivered into our capable hands. And that is where our heroes — the rescuers — come in.
PRWC treats more than 2,000 birds, mammals and reptiles each year, and we care for more than 120 residents that cannot be released due to their injuries. With a tiny paid staff, we rely on hundreds of volunteers to keep our doors open, the habitats clean, and the donations rolling in to pay for food and medications for all of our patients and residents.
When a call comes in regarding an injured animal, we rarely can spare anyone on duty to leave the facility for a rescue mission. Charlotte County animal control officers help out whenever they can, but their primary duty is to domestic animals and public safety. Over the years, we have had many stalwart volunteer rescuers who were ready, willing and able to pick up an injured eagle, bobcat or snapping turtle — but now we find ourselves relying on just a few individuals to pick up all of our injured animals.
And that is where you come in. PRWC is looking for a few good men (or women). If you’ve always wanted to take your love of wildlife to the next level but didn’t know how, this is your chance. We can train you to become a volunteer rescuer, and then you could be the wildlife hero you’ve always imagined yourself as.
No experience is required. However, a love of nature and empathy for all of her creatures (not just the cute, fluffy ones) is mandatory. A strong sense of adventure and a weak sense of smell are highly recommended. If this sounds like you, contact us and let’s make this happen.
Peace River Wildlife Center is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to the care, preservation and protection of Charlotte County’s native wildlife since 1978. They are open seven days a week year-round, including holidays. Tours are offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. PRWC receives no government funding and relies entirely on private donations. For more info, visit PRWildlife.org, email PeaceRiverWildlife@yahoo.com or call 941-637-3830.