South Carolina has 46 counties. Last count, there are only 30 counties with local wildlife rescues. Many rescues accept animals from multiple counties.
Folks tell us all the time that there are not enough wildlife rescues in South Carolina. We do not disagree. Ironically there are not enough donors and supporters of wildlife rescues for more of us to survive.
Wildlife rescues serve a much-needed purpose to communities. Who do you call when you find orphaned, injured, or displaced wildlife? If you really want to make sure the animal you found receives the absolute best care from people who are educated to care for that species; you will call your most local (reputable) wildlife rescue. *
In South Carolina there are no state or federal agencies that do what we do. All wildlife rescues are independent organizations that do not receive state or federal funding. Most of us are nonprofits, but you do not have to be a nonprofit to be a good rescue. Nonprofit status does not benefit the organization so much as it does the donors to the organization. Nonprofit status does not legitimize an organization either.
Our rescue is a nonprofit organization. We are also an all-volunteer organization. This means no one receives a salary so all donations received go directly to the care of the animals at the rescue. This also means that we pay out of pocket for any expenses not covered by donations. And there are plenty of expenses. Nonprofits do not receive anything for free. We pay for vet care, feed, supplies, and transportation. Sometimes we might get a discount. Most of the time we do not.
Most of our volunteers also have jobs in their real life. We have to…this is how we pay for all of those expenses when donations are low.
We’re not telling those of you who follow us anything you haven’t heard before…Let us get to the point of this blog post, which is about 50% rant and 50% preaching to the choir.
Last week we had two different callers who drove more than 2 hours from opposite sides of the state to bring us orphaned wildlife they found because they did not have a local rescue in their area. Both callers were mad because to help the wildlife they found they had to drive to us. Both were angry that we could not just hop in our cars and drive to them. They wanted to help the animals they found, but they were also disappointed that wildlife rescues here aren’t like the ones they see on TV shows?!?!?!?! One caller actually told us we need to do better.
For wildlife rescues to be successful and sustainable we need community support. Two years ago our rescue had to limit the species we accept. Not because we do not have the time or volunteers, but because we do not have the funding to keep supplies on hand for multiple species of wildlife.
Wildlife rescues face a lot of hardships with our biggest one being that we do not have a revenue generating resource. Our main goal is to keep wildlife wild and be sure it’s capable of survival when rehabilitation is complete. We cannot have adoption events or charge admission to visitors. Heck, we can’t even have visitors. We cannot take the wild animals we are rehabbing to events and show them off. We cannot allow the WILD animals in our care to be human imprinted or habituated. Sadly when the public does not get to have a first hand experience with the animals they tend to NOT donate to us and instead donate to the shelters, sanctuaries, and petting zoos they can visit.
Our second biggest hardship is that folks believe we receive funding from state agencies to do the work we do so people believe there is no need to donate. Or that their tax money pays us. We wish!
We help the humans who reach out to us just as much as we help the wildlife brought to us. Our purpose is not only to rehabilitate and keep wildlife wild. Our purpose is also to help the people who FIND the animals know what to do when they encounter wildlife.
The moral of the story here is that wildlife rescues are becoming a rarity and the biggest culprit is (as always) funding. If you have a wildlife rescue in your community, please support them. If you take an animal to a rescue, leave a donation. Tell other people about how your local wildlife rescue helped you. Share social media posts, newsletters, websites, and blogs from your local wildlife rescue. Do something because before long rescues like ours will only be able to do nothing.
*Some species and some situations fall outside of what a wildlife rescue can lawfully handle and require a response from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) or the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC).