Wild bird rescue society not closing doors any time soon

News of Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society's demise is premature, society's founder says

Despite concerns over a funding shortage, the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society remains committed to helping injured wildlife on the North Island.

“I wish to reassure our community that we at MARS are working hard to continue to provide wildlife rescue services, thanks to the support from the local community,” said Maj Birch, manager of the centre who founded the society 17 years ago, in a letter to the Campbell River Mirror.

“I don’t want people to think we’re going to close our doors,” Birch told the Mirror. “It’s not such doom and gloom. It’s hard for all non-profits, and we just need to re-evaluate the way that we’re marketing, the way that we’re going things. We’ve had to change our thinking.”

A major fall fundraiser – the Harvest Dinner and Auction – was not held this year, due to declining profits from the event, Birch said, and at the beginning of November MARS had enough funding to get through two months.

“Now, at the beginning of January we have three months of funding,” she said. “Certainly at the beginning of the year we’re always optimistic.”

In addition to tough times for all charities in the current economy, an ever-increasing workload at MARS has meant less time for fundraising and a greater demand for funds.

MARS is now working with more than 50 injured eagles each year, as well as rehabilitating other birds, and helping other injured wildlife. In addition, they spend a great deal of time on educational presentations and have an in-demand internship program.

Birch stressed the importance of the work done by the society.

“We are more than a band-aid solution for wildlife,” she said. “Our volunteers commit hours of their time to educate through the schools, on site with work experience programs, and at various community events. We participate in wildlife studies and promote conservation and habitat protection through participation on various community committees and efforts.”

MARS volunteers have been actively fundraising over the last two months, and are promoting a number of items available for sale through their online gift store.

“We are planning more upcoming events and raffles to fundraise in order to keep our operations going,” Birch said. “While we depend upon the generosity of folks who find wildlife, those who love to see them wild and free, we must continue to keep working hard to secure funds for our operations.”

The upcoming seventh annual Eaglefest in Campbell River is a major fundraiser for the society. It takes place in February.

MARS relies on fundraising, donations and grants to keep its programs running. In-kind donations, such as veterinary care and a donated vehicle, allow them to provide many of their animal care services.

The society welcomes anyone who would like to help, to join them in their fundraising efforts.

“We feel that it is everyone’s responsibility to care for the environment in which we live for future generations to enjoy. That includes stewardship of our natural resources and protection of wild native species,” Birch said. “We welcome all who wish to contribute ideas and work on our funding committee to join us in these efforts.”

For more information visit the MARS website at www.wingtips.org, follow MARS on Facebook, call 250-337-2021 or email info@wingtips.org.