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Loomis wildlife rescue center offers on-site care

By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
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Most people aren?t sure what to do when they find orphaned or injured wildlife, fortunately there is help nearby. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue recently opened its Loomis Intake Center on Horseshoe Bar Road and for the second year, is providing on-site care and triage for injured, orphaned and ill wild animals. Just days after opening, the center?s all-volunteer staff had tended to a variety of animals, including baby songbirds and finches, a pair of baby ducks and an opossum with six babies. ?It?s already been busy this year,? said Kari Freidig, a senior rehabilitation specialist with the organization. Freidig, who also serves on the Placer County Fish and Game Commission, said one of the most important things people can do to help an animal they believe has been orphaned is to take a step back and make sure the animal needs rescuing. Often, she said, people will see what they believe to be an abandoned animal and they pick it up and bring it to the center. Unfortunately, Freidig said, those animals are often not abandoned, but hidden by their mothers while they go and search for food. In the case of an animal that is not obviously injured, people should try to check on the animal several times over a period of four to six hours, Freidig said. ?Often times the mother will come back, but if someone has taken the baby it?s essentially kidnapping,? Freidig said. If the animal is obviously injured and in need of help, the organization asks people to keep the animal safe from pets and children and to keep the animal in a warm and dark place in order to keep it calm. ?If it can be put in a box or a crate with a towel over it, that will really calm it down,? Freidig said. Before the Intake Center was up and running, injured and orphaned animals were taken in by different volunteers and cared for in different locations before being relocated to the appropriate site where they are cared for by a volunteer rehabilitation specialist. The rescue group in its 25 years has worked with nearly 30 volunteer rehabilitation specialists who specialize in different types of animals, including raptors, water fowl, songbirds, and large and small mammals. ?Now, we take them in here at the center and stabilize them and then move them on to the right site for rehabilitation,? Freidig said. ?It?s much better now that we have this facility, we can do so much more.? Freidig, who has been with the group for 12 years, said she and her fellow volunteers are currently putting the finishing touches on the Intake Center and training new volunteers. Cindy Henry Grimm, of Applegate, is looking forward to her first year as a volunteer with the organization. After she was laid-off from her job, Grimm said she decided to spend some time volunteering. ?I decided I needed new challenges and I love animals, so this was a good opportunity for me,? Grimm said. After volunteering at the Center for three days, Grimm said loves the work she is doing with the animals. Volunteers at the Center work 4-hour shifts, assessing, treating, and feeding the animals. Some animals require food every 30 minutes. ?It can be heartbreaking, but there are so many happy stories, too,? Grimm said. Annette Purther, of Alta, who volunteered at the facility last year, said each animal that comes in is different than the next. ?It?s always a learning experience,? Purther said. ?No case is ever the same as another.? Although animals that cannot be rehabilitated are often used in the educational programs Gold Country Wildlife Rescue offers to schools and community groups, the majority of the animals are released back into the wild. ?Our goal is to rehabilitate them and release them back into their natural environment as a healthy and wild animal,? Freidig said. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue Intake Center What: Triage center for injured and orphaned wildlife When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily, May through August Where: 5901 Horseshoe Bar Road Information: (530) 885-0862, goldcountrywildliferescue.org