By Jenn Watt
Published Feb. 20, 2018
When people began spotting a deer in the village of Haliburton with an arrow protruding from its head, the first instinct for many was to call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
The provincial entity is usually the one to call for wildlife matters, so it follows that they would be able to send someone to tranquilize the animal and arrange for its treatment.
What many of us learned through this process was that the MNRF usually provides advice and refers people to wildlife rehabilitators.
Enter the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary and its co-ordinator Monika Melichar.
Melichar played a key role in organizing the capture and treatment of the deer, which she named Mirabelle. The process took weeks since locally no one has access to a dart gun and a wildlife veterinarian needed to be available for when the time was right.
Then, mercifully, everything came together – the venue (Dave Allen’s property in town), someone authorized to use a tranquilizer dart (Howard Smith of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary) and the vet (Dr. Sherri Cox) – and on Jan. 28 Mirabelle was on her way to Aspen Valley for treatment.
The deer is doing well and will likely be returning to Haliburton in the spring.
None of this would have been possible without wildlife rehabilitators and our good fortune to have the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary here in Haliburton County.
Melichar says that there are plenty of people who mistake her work for that of the MNRF.
Those people would also assume the service the sanctuary offers is publicly funded and that it has all of the specialized equipment and resources needed to help wild animals in need.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
On a budget of about $45,000, a group of volunteers cares for about 600 wild animals a year at the sanctuary, which occupies 45 acres in Minden Hills.
They do it without government funding, relying on donations or the rare grant to do their work.
Most of us don’t think about who would be available to help should we find an injured wild animal on the road, but we imagine someone would be there.
That only happens because of facilities like Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary.
On March 10, the sanctuary is holding its primary fundraiser of the year, Go Wild for Wildlife, at Pinestone Resort. It’s an evening of music, dancing and food with live and silent auctions.
If you’re interested in giving our local sanctuary a boost, this is the time to do it. Tickets are $50 each and available online at www.woodlandswildlifesanctuary.ca.
It might also be time for the province to make funds available for these wildlife rehabbers. Their work is important and they do it with little help.
A small fund that allocates grants each year would go a long way to ensuring we always have someone there to help our injured wildlife.