Published in the July 20 – Aug. 2, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Joy Joyner

Photo courtesy WERC Joy Joyner, president of the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center Board of Directors, and Luna.

Photo courtesy WERC
Joy Joyner, president of the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center Board of Directors, and Luna.

From helping magnificent bald eagles to tiny pygmy owls such as Wally, the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center provides the South Valley community with rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured and sick native wildlife. Though educational programs, WERC also teaches local residents the importance of living harmoniously with animals and the environment.

For more than 30 years, dedicated staff and teams of volunteers have provided daily care and treatment for injured, sick and orphaned bobcats, badgers, weasels, opossums, owls, hawks, falcons and songbirds to ensure they are healthy with the goal of returning them to their native habitat. WERC also provides a permanent home for those animals too injured to live in the wild on their own.

But all of this wonderful “WERC” is at risk of being lost and animals will be left with no shelter or protection. WERC has an immediate and urgent need to relocate its facility. Nestled in Morgan Hill, WERC currently occupies a small center on private property. From its humble beginnings WERC managed to help a tremendous number of animals. But we have grown to realize that certain species and the quantity of animals our nonprofit organization can admit is limited.

WERC is a member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and the California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators. These organizations set the standards for facilities, care and caging for wildlife rehabilitation. Because WERC follows all the guidelines from these state and federal agencies, it has faced a growing need for improved facilities.

Faced with imminent relocation, WERC is taking into consideration not only new space requirements but a much-needed expansion and upgrade of its facility and services. Currently animals are transferred or referred to other wildlife centers because there are not enough enclosures for all the birds and mammals in need of care.

WERC’s dream facility would include a larger clinic with exam tables, X-ray room and surgery suite where veterinary care can be administered to more animals. To provide better service, a new facility would need a food preparation room with full-sized freezer and refrigerator, a bird nursery with incubator, a bobcat kitten nursery and a formal reception area where animals can be received and evaluated. With the relocation, WERC hopes to have bigger and better outdoor enclosures for rehabilitating raptors, songbirds and small mammals with room to grow so species can be added as needed.

To expand educational efforts, a new improved facility would have a viewing area with one-way glass where visitors can safely observe animals too injured to be released into the wild, indoor enclosures for reptiles and small animals and a meeting/classroom.

Finally, the WERC dream facility would include trails, a picnic area and informational displays to attract the community to come and share in our passion to protect wildlife and promote the coexistence between civilization and nature.

In order to realize this dream, we need the help of our community. Please visit www.savewally.org for more information on how WERC and all of the animals in the area can be saved.

Joy Joyner is president of the board for WERC. She wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life. She can be reached by emailing her at joy.joyner@gmail.com.