Community helps AHWF help area wildlife

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American Heritage Wildlife Foundation began the paperwork in 2001. By 2002, had received 501(c)3 and nonprofit incorporation status and became the only wildlife rehabilitation facility with federal and state permits allowing care of most every species of wild animal in the panhandle of Idaho. AHWF holds both state and federal permits. This allows rehabilitative care of the injured and orphaned local birds (long term of waterfowl, songbirds, groundbirds & short term of large raptors), all nongame mammals (squirrels, raccoons, weasels, etc.), reptiles (turtles, lizards) and amphibians (frogs, salamanders). Additional federal and state permits allow the use of animal artifacts as teaching items at our educational programs including the soon to open Nature Walk — a guided pathway experience.

We are 100% community supported through funding and volunteers. Each year, more than 300 phone calls are responded to, 50 animal cases (from over two dozen different species) are accepted as patients, up to three dozen outreach events and activities are planned and 3,000 to 4,000 hours of volunteer manpower are recorded. The budget is over $10,000. This money comes from our community; no federal, state or county funds are given to support this vital mission. The vision is to create the first nature center of the Inland Pacific Northwest.

This revenue is collected from our community through many avenues. There are online donation links, online shopping programs, AHWF merchandise including illustrated children’s books, as well as fundraising events. One upcoming event is the 4th annual clean comedy show and silent auction which takes place Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Memorial Community Center in Hope. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m.. This year two great performers will entertain, Chase Mayers will open for Gabriel Rutledge. Items to bid upon include a custom crafted knife, a set of ATV tires, Schweitzer Ski pass, Spokane Indian tickets, freshwater pearl jewelry items, beautiful blanket afghans and much more.

Tickets are $20 and can be obtained at Monarch Market, A Shear Inspiration, Our Neck of the Woods, Vapor Creek, Northern Idaho Powersports, Sandpoint Tattoo, Felkers Northern Smoke BBQ, North Idaho Animal Hospital, Monarch Mountain Coffee and Fry Creek Animal Clinic. Our goal is to raise $7,000 by the end of the year. This event as well as the upcoming wldlife trivia (again) night, funnelcake fundraiser, Apple Pressing Festival, Samantha Carston Live Music event, and Scarecrow Contest at Hickey Farms will all help meet this goal.

It may be easy to dismiss the profession of wildlife rehabilitation as a hobby due to those untrained and unlicensed caring citizens who “rescue” a young animal and tell everyone their experience. Wildlife rehabilitation is much more involved than just offering nutritional support. An analogy would be if your neighbor comes over and says my leg hurts can you help me? Would your reply be ‘let me search the internet how to set a broken leg’ or would you drive them to the hospital. Knowledge may take a few moments to collect but experience takes years. Additionally, professional rehabilitators network with each other and share their patient case history. With 5,000 professionals across the nation, there is no excuse for the private citizen to feel compelled to provide long term care of a wild animal on their own. If you see a wild animal you think needs to be rescued stop and remember AHWF. Make sure you are aware of the wild animals you should be seeing in that habitat. Hesitate before approaching any wild animal. Watch for signs of distress (visible injuries or volcalizations). Follow through by contacting the proper authorities. There are three wildlife rehabilitation nonprofits in the panhandle who work closely together and will refer you.

Kathleen St. Clair-McGee is founder and board president of American Heritage Wildlife Foundation. She can be reached at online at ahwf.org or by phone at 208-266-1488.

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