Maj Birch was a champion of North Island wildlife

North Island wildlife lost a guardian Wednesday, and the Comox Valley lost a friend, when Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) founder Maj Birch succumbed to cancer.

Birch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Oct. 6, her 66th birthday.

“She was diagnosed just over six weeks ago, and the disease just progressed really quickly,” said Pearl McKenzie, vice-president of MARS.

The death came as a shock to many, as Birch remained true to the MARS campaign throughout her short battle with the disease.

As recently as two weeks ago, she was campaigning the local government councils for money to go towards the new hospital and a flight pen to help eagles and other wildlife recover.

“Maj and I were making delegations to the local governments,” said McKenzie. “She was very committed to helping us raise money for our new wildlife hospital and visitors’ centre. She was very excited about both of them.

“She had a number of ideas about the education centre, about how to get kids involved and get them out looking at all the little critters in our waters and on our land.”

“She knew, when we were making those presentations, about the diagnosis, but she was hoping for more time. It’s important to say this, she accepted it. She wasn’t afraid. She felt she lived a very good life.”

Birch began rehabbing animals in 1987 in northern B.C., and after certification in International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council basic skills, she moved to the Comox Valley with her husband Keith. Maj established the wildlife centre in 1995 on their three acres of property, gaining permits from Canadian Wildlife Service for migratory birds and permits for raptors and mammals from the BC Ministry of Environment. She completed the exam and MARS became a designated wildlife facility in 1996.

McKenzie said that while replacing Birch will be impossible, the MARS mission will be upheld.

“Maj was planning on retiring, so she had been, over the past period of time, transferring a lot of her responsibilities to the rest of us,” said McKenzie. “We are a very strong organization. We have hundreds of volunteers, and the core volunteers are just very dynamic, skilled people. So we will take her work forward.”

A Celebration of Maj’s life is being held today at 2 p.m. in the Upper Hall of the Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton, Courtenay.  In lieu of flowers, donation to MARS is suggested, www.wingtips.org, to build a new wildlife centre.

 

Just Posted

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

Fire chief urges residents to check smoke detectors following structure fires in Campbell River

Smoke alarms failed in three incidents, including fire that destroyed second storey of home: Doherty

Coroner’s inquest into fatal police shooting in Port Hardy begins in Campbell River

James Reginald Butters, 24, killed in 2015 after RCMP responded to call of male uttering threats

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ in North Campbell River

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Annual paddling event an opportunity to meet neighbours, says founder

Discovery Passage Passage takes place this weekend between Campbell River and Cape Mudge

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

‘Unsubstantiated’ bomb threat against CP Rail in Revelstoke

On Aug. 18, a bomb threat was made against CP Rail in Revelstoke

Victoria father charged with double murder of his daughters takes the stand

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Catholic church buys $7.5M equestrian facility in B.C., plans ‘agri-retreat’ centre

Church hopes to grow crops, host students and others on Bradner property

New regulations require training for B.C. addiction recovery homes

Inspections, standards replace ‘wild west,’ Judy Darcy says

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

66% of B.C. residents want opt-out system for organ donation: poll

Support was lowest in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces

Vancouver Island rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Qualicum Beach school and difficult to remove

Most Read