Dale Belvedere, manager of the South Okanagan Raptor Rehab Centre, chats with Houdini, their resident great horned owl. The B.C. SPCA is hoping to set up their own rehab centre to help a wider range of animals in the Central Okanagan. (Steve Kidd – Black Press)

Dale Belvedere, manager of the South Okanagan Raptor Rehab Centre, chats with Houdini, their resident great horned owl. The B.C. SPCA is hoping to set up their own rehab centre to help a wider range of animals in the Central Okanagan. (Steve Kidd – Black Press)

BC SPCA looking at Okanagan for wildlife rehab centre

Community support is needed to get the project going

The B.C. SPCA says there is a need for a wildlife rehabilitation centre in the Okanagan, and it would love to build one.

What’s needed to make it happen, according to Dr. Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer for the B.C. SPCA, is community support.

“We know the need is there, but the community is going to have to come forward (and support it),” said Dubois.

In the South Okanagan, the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre takes care of injured owls, eagles, hawks and other birds of prey. To the north, the Kamloops Wildlife Park Society operates a wildlife rehabilitation centre as part of its facility. The SPCA has a facility near Victoria, the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre.

But in the Central Okanagan, there is no specialized help for injured animals and wildlife needing extended treatment and they need to be transported a distance for help.

“Our Kelowna branch is frequently called out for rescues as well, as animals show up at the clinics in need of care,” said Dubois.

“That’s mammals and birds and reptiles and amphibians. Those animals right now don’t have a place to go locally. So there’s a patchwork of things that are happening. And there are some things that are not in the best interest of the animals; people try to take these animals home and care for them.”

Dale Belvedere, SORCO manager, said that was a particular problem a couple of years ago when SORCO had to take in 44 great horned owl babies people had found out of their nests and thought they were in distress.

“People kept seeing these babies on the ground and picking them up,” said Belvedere, explaining the birds would likely have found their way back to the nest by themselves. Rather than interfering, she said people should have called SORCO to report the problem.

Belvedere said SORCO support establishing an SPCA rehab centre, but both she and Dubois agree it would take years to accomplish.

Read more: Give a hoot and don’t touch baby birds

SORCO specializes in raptors, but Dubois said a facility such as the one proposed could extend that care to a wide range of wildlife.

If there was a dedicated resource facility, there would be expert staff able to go out and deal with problems directly, from injured animals to reuniting baby birds with their nest mates.

Setting up such a facility would come with a cost. There would be costs for obtaining land, Dubois said, as well as building a facility or modifying existing buildings as needed. Then there would be ongoing costs for operating a facility.

“Our current facility takes in 3,000 animals a year and it costs about $850,000 to operate,” said Dubois.

Starting out, an Okanagan facility would plan on taking in about half that number.

“Even taking in 1,500 animals a year, it’s going to be close to half a million dollars in operating costs,” she said.

Read more: Owls being treated for suspected Warfarin poisoning

Dubois said people may not understand that while overall conservation of wild animals is a government responsibility, when it comes to individual animals, “no one’s paying for their care.”

She said support needs to come from the business community and local governments, as well as the people.

“There could be a lot of good corporate sponsorships,” said Dubois, adding the SPCA has had conversations with business owners.

“The community of the Okanagan would really thrive and could show they are a compassionate community that wants to take care with wildlife.

“The residents of the Okanagan deserve to have something like this for their wildlife. We know they care,” she added.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The RCMP are asking for assistance regarding the death of Kathleen Richardson of Naramata, pictured here. Her death is believed to be related to two homicides in Naramata in May. (RCMP)
Suspected Naramata homicide victim identified by police

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday

The COVID-19 cases reported over the week of May 30 to June 5. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees second straight week of 17 new COVID-19 cases

Summerland, Keremeos and Princeton all recorded no new cases

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator. (Black Press file photo)
FireSmart coordinator named for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Kerry Riess will provide assistance to mitigate potential wildfire hazards

The damages to the downtown park in Keremeos. One of the trees that was uprooted was a memorial tree with a plaque. (Submitted)
Memorial tree in Keremeos park uprooted by vandals

All of the trees in the small park were torn up and the statue was shifted

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a summary of this week’s biggest stories from the Okanagan-Shuswap

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Fair-goers take a ride at the 120th annual Armstrong Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede Aug. 28-Sept. 1, 2019. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)
Armstrong’s IPE not eligible for COVID-19 grant designed for major attractions

Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo criticized the rigidity of the provincial program’s criteria

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna General Hospital clinicians observe increase in e-scooter injuries

A report is set to go to city council next week on how the e-scooter pilot has gone thus far

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Most Read