If you love Vancouver Island wildlife, a treasure trove awaits discovery in the heart of Vancouver Island!
“We have a jewel here in the wilderness of Errington, with lots of treasures to discover,” says Sylvia Campbell, co-founder with husband Robin of the North Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
“NIWRA is unique, mostly because we invite the public to visit, where a lot of other wildlife rehabilitation centres don’t have the ability to do that,” Campbell explains. “It’s exciting for us to share the work our team is doing, and it’s exciting for the public to see the animals and learn how they can help local wildlife.”
Open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily in Errington, a few minutes outside Parksville, the centre takes in ill, injured or orphaned wildlife – from the smallest hummingbird to the largest mammals – rehabilitating those that can be released to the wild and providing a home to those that can’t. Non-releasable animals become ambassadors for the needs of wildlife and the centre, which welcomes visitors for self-guided tours and special events.
So what treasures will you discover? Here’s a look at a few of the many highlights…
- Closed-circuit ‘Bear Cam’: The centre is currently caring for three orphaned bear cubs, who, because they’ll be released into the wild, are kept away from people. You CAN, however, watch them via the closed-circuit video feed from their enclosure – meet Muffin, Midnight and Shadow!
- Raptor encounters: Several non-releasable raptors have been glove-trained, allowing the public to see some of these majestic birds up close and in action. Others birds who thrive in the centre’s open-air enclosure include turkey vultures, eagles, owls, even a steller’s jay. Dougal and Freddy, two engaging, blind crows, shine bright, as does Casey, a young bald eagle who broke his wing falling from his nest.
- Fields of Stones & Faeries: A destination for the whole family, discover featured like the “Field of Stones,” an interactive play area for children. Nearby, you’ll also find the Wildlife Garden, colourful beds filled with treats for the pollinators, like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and the new Faerie Garden, filled with magical treasures to discover.
- Recovery and Discovery: While wildlife rehabilitation is the centre’s primary goal, education is also vital, and not only to the many locals who come through the doors, but also the visitors. “We’ve become an popular tourist destination. With eight acres of beautifully manicured land, people are blown away when they visit,” Campbell says. Look for new signage highlighting some of those elements.
- Up Close & Personal with Knut & Rae: Two non-releasable black bears have become popular ambassadors for the centre: At 1:30 p.m. daily, stop by the bear enclosure for feeding time, and a chance to see residents Knut and Rae. “It’s an incredible opportunity to see these black bears up close,” Campbell says.
Throughout the year, donations and volunteers are essential to making the centre’s work possible. Click here to learn about how you can contribute – remember, “They depend on us; we depend on you,” Campbell says.
Learn more at niwra.org, call 250-248-8534 and visit at 1240 Leffler Rd., Errington.