Sawyer

MARS faces challenge of building a new home

In the spring of next year the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society will be homeless. Though they have secured a new property, not enough funds have been raised to complete construction on the organizations vital buildings.

“We have enough money just to start building and then it is going to be an all out scramble,” said Robert McLennan, the new manager.

Part one of the plan for the new property is the hospital as well as a flight pen.

The following phases include housing for the students and an interpretive centre for educating the public.

McLennan was hired at the beginning of June as the new manager after being involved with the organization as a member of the board for the past three years.

His background experience in management will allow him to ease the transition to the new facility and keep everything organized.

Though MARS is being forced to move only recently, the facilities have been too small for quite some time. In order for eagles and other large birds of prey to be deemed ready to be released, they have to prove that they can fly silently.

MARS’ current flight pen is not big enough for them to demonstrate this, so, when they are almost 100 per cent they have to travel to another facility before they can be released, however, travel can be hugely stressful for the birds.

“We get more eagles than any other facility on Vancouver Island and it’s a real shame that we have to send them out all the time,” McLennan said.

Though MARS deals mostly with birds they also often get fawns. They currently have a bambi in the baby bungalow that was brought to them in a laundry basket. McLennan said the mother was probably hit by a car. Once it can take care of itself, it will be moved into a bigger pen and eventually released. At the new facility there will be larger pens for these animals.  The duck pond will also be expanded into a large wetland where the animals can release themselves once they have recovered.

MARS’ object is to rehabilitate and release, but in the cases of their ambassador birds, the animals could not be returned to the wild. Some, like Brinley, a great horned owl, were injured so badly that they will never fully recover and be able to care for themselves, others, like Horace, a red-tailed hawk, are socially imprinted to humans and don’t know how to hunt. MARS is not a zoo, they do however keep these ambassador birds to educate and engage the public.

They are starting another fundraising campaign at the end of the month and donations can be made on their website www.wingtips.org.