Wildlife rehabilitation nonprofit closes clinic, seeks new home

Feb. 04, 2013 @ 10:11 PM

Leaders of a Durham-based nonprofit that has worked to provide care to sick, injured and orphaned wildlife from owls to song birds to turtles is seeking a location that will allow them to re-open their rehabilitation clinic.
The Triangle Wildlife Resource Center clinic closed in December at 1417 Seaton Road in Durham, which is in the Parkwood area. President Pamela Bayne said the group had outgrown the leased space, and had problems with the building’s plumbing.
“It wasn’t strictly the plumbing,” Bayne said. “It just didn’t fit our needs anymore. We were bumping into each other. We were literally passing each other, and bumping into each other, and there was only one kitchen sink in that entire building.”
The clinic closed during a slow part of the year, Bayne said. Injured, adult animals were transferred to other organizations.
Bayne also said revenues and volunteer support were not keeping pace with the number of animals the nonprofit was receiving. Last year, she said they received more than 2,100 animals.
“We’ve been so inundated with animals, our fundraising needs haven’t been met,” Bayne said.
The nonprofit had some financial reserves, and probably could have stayed open longer, Bayne said. But she said the money was getting depleted as a result of payments for medication, veterinary care and staff.
According to 2011 tax documents for the nonprofit, the organization received $77,993 in revenues that year, the bulk coming from contributions, gifts, grants and similar sources. The nonprofit reported $85,521 in expenses, for a deficit of $8,528.
However, it was able to draw from $96,323 in net assets, the majority of that in cash, savings and investments.
Karen McKinnon, vice president of the nonprofit and a member of the board, said the nonprofit does plan to re-open the clinic, so they had to have resources for that. She said they didn’t want to run the organization down to the last dollar.
“If you’re going to take a break, the best time to do it is Christmas when animals stop coming in, and then work like hell to get something back in business before the baby birds start to come,” she said.
A public meeting will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Parkwood United Methodist Church on Revere Road to discuss plans to re-open the clinic. Bayne said she hopes to recruit people to be on committees for fundraising and location. 
According to the nonprofit’s website, in order to re-open, the clinic needs a location with a building and a minimum of a one-acre tract of land that’s suitable for large, outside caging. Nonprofit leaders are asking the community to help find free land, or land the nonprofit can lease in a centrally located area in the Triangle.
“I am sure we’re going to find a way,” McKinnon said. “I don’t know how, I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers today – I don’t – I’m waiting to hear from the community.”
McKinnon said nonprofit leaders didn’t want to invest the organization’s money in fixing up a space they didn’t own. She said she believes it would be beneficial if the nonprofit could add its services to existing organizations.
“I’ve seen these people take hummingbirds the size of nothing and release the adult, it’s just phenomenal – they are so skilled,” she said. “That doesn’t mean they’re skilled at how to find land, and how to make corporate partners, but they are very, very skilled with the animals, and we just need a partner, and partnerships, and the community, (and) a way to organize the community to do this.”
Bayne said it takes close to $100,000 per year to keep the nonprofit operating, and that’s with only two paid staff members. She said they want to be able to hire more staff. In addition, McKinnon said they want to pay their staff a sustainable, livable wage. They also want to recruit more volunteers.
“(We) only had two paid staff people, and … they were barely getting anything – it was just their heart, it was the only reason they worked for the little bit of money they received,” Bayne said.
Bayne said she was not one of the paid employees. There was not enough money to pay her, she said. She said she’s been working with wildlife for many years. She said that after she sold her business, she wanted to pursue her passion.
Another organization, the Piedmont Wildlife Center, which operates a camp but that no longer operates a clinic, opened its first animal hospital in her home in Chatham County, Bayne said. When Piedmont closed its clinic, Triangle Wildlife Resource Center launched and opened its clinic.
This would have been the center’s fourth year, Bayne said.
The nonprofit’s goal is to care for, and then re-locate, healthy animals. She said the group did triage and care for injured baby and adult mammals, and transferred healthy baby mammals to home rehabilitators. She said the clinic was relied upon to provide care for migratory birds, which she said requires both a state and federal permit.
Even after the closure of the clinic, Bayne said she’s still trying to continue to help wildlife as a home rehabilitator. She said she loves wildlife. But she said that doing the work on her own, she’d get hundreds of calls.
“That’s why we need a clinic,” she said. “It takes a huge amount of effort from dedicated people to take care of all these animals. One person can’t do it by themselves.”
During the winter, the clinic mostly gets injured adults, she said. But in March and April, she said animals start “pouring into the clinic.”
“We are all really concerned about what’s going to happen,” she said.