At a luncheon at Tydes restaurant in the Coral Casino on March 13, the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (SBWCN) welcomed passionate wildlife advocate Ann Smith to its board of directors. SBWCN Director of Development Ariana Katovich shared that “Ann brings a wealth of passion and experience to the work of saving and serving wildlife. She is a force for nature and her commitment to animals is inspiring.”
Smith, who splits her time between Santa Barbara and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has a long history of protecting wildlife. While married to a National Park Service ranger/naturalist, she rescued and raised many creatures, including seabirds and mammals in the Cape Cod National Seashore, where she volunteered her home as a drop-off center. She is on the board of Tanzania-based African People & Wildlife Fund and frequently travels to East Africa, where she is working to save elephants. Smith recently became involved in the fight to stop trophy hunting of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, raising $100,000 toward Earthjustice’s successful lawsuit. Given the mission of the Wildlife Care Network, Smith related, she is thrilled to be joining the board.
The Wildlife Care Network rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds, small mammals, reptiles, and other wildlife. Neither the City of Santa Barbara nor the County rehabilitates these creatures so the work of this organization is critically important. Other than some $2,000 grants from the City of Goleta over the years, the SBWCN receives no government funding.
In 2012, SBWCN opened its current humble facility on North Fairview Avenue in Goleta, where last year it cared for nearly 3,300 animals. A 24/7 hotline receives about 10,000 calls each year. SBWCN operates with a lean staff of six year-round, with additional staff hired seasonally, and a large army of volunteers year-round. Baby season recently started and runs until September 1. An estimated 1,200 baby birds will come into SBWCN’s care during this period and will need feeding every 20 minutes. To volunteer, go to sbwcn.org/volunteer.
SBWCN serves all of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, with 89 percent of the animals from S.B. County. Nearly 80 percent of the animals are birds, with large numbers of pelicans, mallards, western gulls, and songbirds. About 20 percent of the animals are small mammals including rabbits, raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, and coyotes. SBWCN treats a handful of reptiles and other wildlife as well.
During the Holiday Fire last July, dedicated volunteers drove through roadblocks and plumes of smoke to evacuate nearly 200 animals from SBWCN, most of whom were relocated to the S.B. Humane Society. The fire caused the trailer that had housed its baby birds to be replaced, trees and the irrigation system were lost, and enormous clean up work was required.
SBWCN recently embarked on a $2.5+ million capital campaign to enable it to expand the services it provides on site. The campaign will fund a wild animal hospital, pay for ongoing expenses, and endow a veterinarian position. SBWCN currently spends significant resources getting animals to other places for diagnostics and treatment, including International Bird Rescue, Ojai Raptor Center, and veterinarian offices. It does not have a veterinarian on staff.
Its only permanent structure is the 500-square foot seabird building, which houses the animal intake, treatment room, oiled bird wash station, laundry, kitchen facilities, and storage. In baby season, SBWCN houses up to 150 young birds in a 10 x 15 foot trailer. When it evacuated to a more spacious facility at the Humane Society, the survival rate of the birds increased, suggesting that the tight quarters negatively impact the birds and providing yet another reason for a new facility.
The Wildlife Helpline is 805 681 1080. For more info about the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, go to sbwcn.org.
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