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The story of Wildwoods

A moment from Wildwoods' early years. (Photo by Farzad Farr)

Once upon a time, there was a couple who loved animals. One day while visiting another city they found an injured bird starving on the ground. They took him to a local vet, who checked him over and did initial emergency care.

The vet assured the couple that with proper care, the bird would make a full recovery and return to the wild. The vet then gave the bird to a local wildlife rehabilitator to shepherd him through his recovery and release. Delighted, the couple made a donation for the bird's care and returned home.

Feeling inspired, the couple decided they also wanted to become wildlife rehabilitators. So they studied hard from a study guide, took a test and got permitted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They found a veterinarian and senior level wildlife rehabilitator to mentor them in their new work since there was so much still to learn. And by that summer, they started admitting and caring for wild animals in need.

This story is ours and it began about 10 years ago. In our first year, we admitted and cared for just under 20 animals. Last year we admitted more than 1,100. Whew!

In the beginning, we worked out of a tiny spare bathroom in our house. Before long, orphaned and injured animals not only filled that bathroom but had also taken over the office and all of the rooms in the basement, including the laundry room, den and workshop. Soon we were building sheds and enclosures in the backyard for even more animals.

Until the past few years, we've been a "mom-and-pop" shop, with two of us caring for all of the animals and paying for the ever-increasing expenses out of our own pockets. As patient volumes grew we began recruiting and training people to help. First we had volunteers then, as we became a 501(c)3 nonprofit and could accept donations, paid staff. And after we became a nonprofit, we were able to accept donations to help cover the many expenses of this work.

In those 10 years since our beginning, we've gone from a tiny "mom-and-pop" operation to the second largest wildlife rehab organization in Minnesota, by number of animals admitted and cared for. We've done all of this from a very small space and on a shoestring budget. Why? Because there is a need. And that need keeps growing.

At first, most of our patients came from the Duluth area and many still do. As people learned about us we began getting orphaned and injured animals from all over Northern Minnesota. We helped connect people and injured wildlife to rehabilitators in Wisconsin and even farther afield.

This hardworking little nonprofit has completely outgrown the space in our basement and backyard and needs a new home. We've secured a place on West Arrowhead Road for future expansion. If we are able to raise the funds necessary, Wildwoods will grow so that we can continue to meet the needs of our community. With your help, we hope to build a new, freestanding wildlife rehabilitation center that will always be there for you and the wild animals in need that you find.

We Northlanders love and are connected to the wildlife around us. Increasing volumes of wildlife rescues tell this tale. Will you be there for us and help us grow so that we may always be here for you? No donation is too small, and all are tax-deductible. Thanks!

Tax-deductible donations can be made online at wildwoodsrehab.org, or through the mail at Wildwoods, P.O. Box 3161, Duluth, MN 55803.

Peggy Farr is a volunteer and board member of Wildwoods and works in human health care.

Peggy Farr

Peggy Farr is a volunteer and board member of Wildwoods and works in human health care.

Wildwoods is a 501(c)(3) wildlife rehabilitation organization in Duluth. For information on how you can help wildlife, including volunteer opportunities, visit wildwoodsrehab.org, call (218) 491-3604 or write to P.O. Box 3161, Duluth, MN 55803.

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