By Jay Wiggs
THE ISLAND’S go-to for rescuing wildlife—whether raccoons, opossums or a nest of orphaned eagles—takes in an average of 1,650 wild animals a year, returning a commendable 75 percent to the wild.
Since 1999, the shelter has provided medical care and rehabilitation to wildlife in Kitsap, King, Mason and Snohomish counties.
Its four-acre campus—located on Dolphin Drive just west of the Bloedel Reserve—includes an X-ray room, duck ponds, large cages and
an aviary so that birds can practice flying before release.
WSWS executive director Lisa Horn said that before the animals can be returned to the wild, they must be able to protect themselves, hunt or forage, fly, run or walk, and must be free of congenital deformities that could impede survival or be passed on to offspring.
“Our goal is to rehab and heal animals,” Horn said, “but for the ones we can’t, it’s education, outreach and teaching people why these animals are important.
”One such critter, Lilith the barred owl, who has a deformed beak, has remained at the shelter and accompanies educational handlers on school visits. “When kids see this they want to learn, explore and become future biologists.
”Presently, the facility is not open to the public; however, WSWS is planning a new 13-acre campus in Port Gamble that will provide space for tours, field trips and day camps. The shelter’s annual Wild for Wine fundraising gala is scheduled for
Oct. 6 at the Clearwater Casino and Resort.