Nearly three years ago, Kelli Polsinelli— a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with more than 15 years of experience— started Wild Earth Refuge after recognizing the lack of care for orphaned or injured wildlife in her home region of Durham.
As the only authorized rehabilitator in Durham Region, Polsinelli quickly made herself invaluable to concerned community members, veterinary offices, and even Oshawa Animal Services, who would transfer wild animals in need of care.
Last year alone, Polsinelli took in more than 200 animals, from more than 15 species, many of them orphaned baby squirrels, birds and rabbits.
Polsinelli was “utterly devastated and shocked” when 4 weeks ago, the city of Oshawa informed her she was in violation of zoning by-laws. Polsinelli says she “did her by-law research” when registering as a not-for-profit corporation and getting her home-based facility off the ground.
To add insult to injury, Polsinelli says that “[t] hey won’t let me keep the wildlife I currently have in care until they can be released a month from now when weather conditions are ideal. Instead, I have to stress these recovering animals out by transferring them to different facilities.”
City councillor Amy England is described by Polsinelli as “a wonderful ally” but unfortunately council has no authority over zoning.
While Polsinelli feels she has grounds to challenge the claims made by by-law officers, she says that “unfortunately, I do not have the resources to fight this. The resources I have go entirely to running this small but needed facility. And not only that, but we are on the verge of baby season, and hundreds of animals in this region will be in big trouble if I do not focus on finding a new facility.”
Polsinelli is calling on community members and supporters to help Wild Earth Refuge find a new location that is zoned for agricultural or industrial purposes. Additionally, Polsinelli estimates she will require about $25,000 to cover one-time, initial start-up costs for ensuring the new location meets all required standards. She is hoping that fellow community members will recognize the value of the volunteer work she is doing, and see this as “a community effort where everyone can come together and improve things for our wild neighbours.”
“Whether you’re an animal lover or not, you could end up needing a rehabilitator’s help one day. If a nest of baby skunks are orphaned in your backyard, we’re there. Or if a bird breaks his back flying into your window, we’re there when you need us.”
We at The Fur-Bearers believe fully in Kelli’s work, as we do all wildlife rehabilitators, and that’s why we’ve gladly reposted this press release. If you are able, please consider helping Kelli keep Wild Earth Refuge alive and well – for the animals.