A donated towel warms a merlin chick. Photo supplied

A donated towel warms a merlin chick. Photo supplied

MARS Moment: 2021 shaping up to be a record-setting year for animal rescues

Submitted by Jane Sproull Thomson

Special to Black Press

With the pandemic, people are staying home and exploring the local trails, and keeping MARS Wildlife Hospital busy as they discover more animals and birds in distress.

After receiving over 1,100 animals last year – a 41 per cent increase over 2019 – MARS is on track to match or surpass that figure in 2021. Usually, we have international students helping while they learn on the job, but with travel restrictions we have had to depend more than usual on local volunteers, who have been throwing themselves into the many and varied tasks demanded.

In addition to the raptors, 47 fawns, 59 raccoons, seven red squirrels, seven common seal pups, an opossum, and a black bear cub were taken in. The seal pups, opossum, and bear cub were later transferred to more specialized rescue facilities.

Six of the species treated at the hospital are ‘red listed’ or endangered, which means we could lose the species entirely: these include the two barn owls, a northern fulmar, a goshawk, a painted turtle, and a western grebe. Blue listed ‘of special concern’ species included band-tailed pigeons, California gulls, great blue herons, and the pygmy owl, peregrine falcons, and western screech owl.

Please don’t try to treat a wild bird or animal yourself. These traumatized victims often have infections as well as injuries and urgently need professional care. It is unsafe for both you and the animal to keep it any longer than absolutely necessary. Incidentally, it is also illegal. Please call us – we can come and pick it up if you cannot bring it in yourself.

Volunteer with MARS

Lots of volunteer opportunities to get involved at MARS are on offer this month. We have been busy landscaping the property around the Visitor Centre to create natural areas for trail interpretation as well as a native garden, and the new fawn ‘house’ and enclosure are taking shape. At the Visitor Centre we are anxiously awaiting Dr. Henry’s advice for re-opening!

animal welfareComox Valley


A goshawk chick awaits dinner at MARS. Photo submitted

A goshawk chick awaits dinner at MARS. Photo submitted