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Local volunteer-based wildlife sanctuary gears up for busiest part of the year

By Brittni Henderson

Sweet Binks Rescue is a wildlife rehabilitation center in Foster, Rhode Island. This facility started its journey as a sanctuary for abandoned or neglected domestic rabbits, but has recently changed its focus to injured or orphaned wildlife. Pamela Hood, one of many non-paid volunteers at the sanctuary, explains that it is now working under the umbrella of the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island (WRARI). Hood, like the other volunteers, is trained and permitted to work with wildlife.

As the winter months slowly start to melt away, the facility’s “busy” season will start to pick up as newborn animals begin to emerge throughout the area.

“Wildlife season will really begin in April,” Hood explains. “The months in between are for recharging, replenishing inventory, cleaning, training, vaccinations, and more!”

Preparing for and executing the manpower needed for both busy and slower times is not easy, especially when it comes to the financial component of maintaining the facility. Hood explains that it is sometimes more difficult to find assistance from others because most of these animals are likely to never be seen again, but are no less important than the domestic animals people are eager to help on a more consistent basis.

“We have to have various formulas, foods, supplements, caging, medications, incubators, beddings and so much more,” she says. “We need to generate funds before the season starts to be prepared and last for untold numbers or kinds of animals. For example: live mealworms are a costly but much needed item we use a lot of.”

Also, as much as it is a way to help these displaced or hurt creatures, wildlife rehabilitation is just as much a way to protect the public’s safety. As Hood explains, many people have warm and welcoming hearts, but often get involved with baby wildlife when they should steer clear. Human interference can become a major stressor on baby animals and sometimes they do not recover. Nature’s goal is to let the mother raise or reclaim her babies because no one can do these things better than she can.

Sweet Binks relies on donations and fundraising to maintain operation. There is a “wish list” on Amazon full of things that will assist not only the human volunteers, but the many needy animals that come to visit. Items like cleaning supplies, paper towels, trash bags, etc. are always needed, too. To find out how to help the many squirrels, opossum, birds, Canadian geese, wild turkeys, and cottontails that make their way through, visit sweetbinks.org.

In cases of emergencies with RVS it is always best to call the Department of Environmental Management at 222-6800 or the wildlife clinic at 294-6363. Sweet Binks does not handle RVS.

DO NOT TOUCH! raccoons • skunks • fox • groundhogs • bats

“If you suspect a true injured or orphaned baby, always observe from a distance and contact a wildlife rehabilitator or the wildlife clinic for advice on how to proceed before intervening,” urges Hood. “Never handle rabies vector species (RVS) like raccoons, skunks, fox, groundhogs or bats. If handled inappropriately, these animals must be euthanized and tested. Humans kidnap too many baby animals unnecessarily, which puts even more pressure and resources on rehabilitators already handling true orphans. Do not attempt to raise babies yourself. There is so much harm in doing so, including improper handling, stress of home environments, kids/other pets, poor diets, and disease factors. It is also illegal.”