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Shelter to Get Help Caring for Wildlife

After a brief crisis that left sick and orphaned wildlife in the southwest Valley without anyone to rescue them, the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas has agreed to care for the animals for at least six weeks.

The arrangement spares the wildlife--including two ducklings and a baby wren so far--from being euthanized.

The trouble began when the county animal shelter in Agoura Hills lost its wildlife rehabilitation worker earlier this month, said Rebecca Dmytryk, co-executive director of the California Wildlife Center. With no place to send wild animals that needed care, the shelter faced the prospect of having to put them to sleep.

The wildlife center has stepped in to prevent that, but long-term plans for caring for injured birds, coyotes and other wild animals in the area remain uncertain.

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The Agoura Hills facility serves a 120-square-mile region stretching from the Conejo Valley to Topanga and parts of the southwest Valley, including Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village. For the wildlife center, handling all the wildlife emergencies in the area will require new volunteers and about $150,000, Dmytryk said.

“We don’t want to make a firm commitment yet, because we have no idea how many animals it will be,” Dmytryk said of the temporary agreement with the shelter.

The wildlife center has a contract to handle Malibu’s wildlife emergencies, and center officials hope to extend their services under contract to local municipalities in the new service area.

The group’s facility in Malibu Creek State Park is equipped to provide only short-term care, Dmytryk said, but the center is renovating the building into a full-time wildlife hospital. The group’s goal is to return animals to the wild.

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The center offers six-week training sessions to teach volunteers how to care for wild animals.

“We need people so bad,” Dmytryk said. “If you want to work hands-on with the animals, great. We’ll teach you.”

For more information about training sessions or volunteering, call the California Wildlife Center’s hotline at (310) 457-WILD and leave a message.


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