Chintimini Wildlife Center at Capacity

On June 14, Chintimini Wildlife Center (CWC) announced that it has reached maximum capacity in their enclosures and has temporarily closed down all new wildlife patient admissions. Prior to this new announcement, a press release had been published on June 8 by CWC calling for donations and support.  

Since opening in 1989, this is the first time CWC has ever reached maximum capacity or had to shut down new patient admissions. This massive increase of new wildlife patient admissions is primarily caused by the recent closure of two other similar wildlife organizations in the area.  

Area Closures 

The closure of Eugene’s Willamette Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2018, and Salem’s Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center in the last few months, has left CWC as the last “all species” wildlife rehabilitation center in the Willamette Valley from Salem to Eugene. The Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene is still fully operational; however, they only rehabilitate birds of prey while CWC deals with mammals, reptiles, and birds.  

These closures forced CWC to service a much larger area, with nearly half of their new patients from areas outside CWC’s intended service area.  

Summer Influx 

Every year, CWC usually has the highest number of wildlife admitted in the summer months due to the influx of migratory birds as well as the increase in young orphaned animals, but this summer, the numbers are off the charts. The center broke their record by admitting patient number 1,000 on June 6. Last summer, CWC was already facing capacity issues when they broke their previous record of new patient admissions. They had already been dealing with an unprecedented number of phone calls to their wildlife help hotline — over 3,200 calls just in the month of May.  

In an attempt to prevent this temporary halt of new wildlife patient admissions, CWC had already implemented new measures to slow down the high number of intakes including limiting hours, restricting types of species admitted, and reducing the area they service. These were only temporary solutions.  

“What’s important to remember is that we’re legally and ethically required to maintain a humane standard of care, and we aren’t able to do that if we choose to work beyond our capacity,” said CWC Executive Director Sarah Spangler in a recent press release.  

Planned Improvements 

As soon as possible, CWC needs a critical infrastructure expansion including improving phone systems, recruiting and training of new staff and volunteers, building new enclosures, and fixing existing buildings. Currently, the enclosures at CWC are outdated and not large enough to accommodate the increased number of animals. In the long term, the center needs a lot of funding to expand enough to accommodate servicing more of the Willamette Valley or alternatively, new wildlife centers need to open in places like Eugene and Salem.  

Fixing these problems is not going to be easy. Unfortunately, in the state of Oregon, wildlife rehabilitation centers do not receive government or contract funding. CWC is asking the people of the Willamette Valley for financial support in order to continue caring for more animals at this time. If you cannot donate financially, they have a wishlist of essential items such as Dawn dish soap, paper towels, quality pet food, fresh fruit, and much more to choose from.  

Funding this wildlife center is important because this is a vital organization in our community. They treat the urgent and life-threatening needs of over 2,000 wild animals every year. Sadly, without the adequate funds and infrastructure, CWC will have to turn away animals in need, and many of those animals will die.  

Don’t Do This at Home 

The high number of new animal patient admissions shows that the demand for wildlife rehabilitation services in Oregon is incredibly high. Currently, anybody who finds an injured wild animal in Oregon legally can’t choose to take care of the animal at their own home. Without rehabilitation centers, these wild animals will go without care.  

As humans continue to encroach into wilderness habitats, the number of injured animals and the demand to rehabilitate them is only going to exponentially increase.  

While CWC is temporarily closed and their Wildlife Hotline is unable to provide advice, if you find a sick, injured, or truly orphaned animal, you can contact Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for help at 503-947-6000.  

For more information about Chintimini Wildlife Center or to make a donation visit https://chintiminiwildlife.org/about-us/ 

By Hannah Meiner