More wildlife rehab services needed in Kootenay Boundary

Christina Abbott ended up having the baby skunk put down due to the lack a nearby facility

After an injured animal had to be put down, Christina Abbott is calling for more wildlife rehab services in Grand Forks.

With no nearby locations to take the animal for rehab, Abbott and a local veterinarian made the decision to the end the animal’s suffering.

Late on Aug. 3, Abbott received a call from a friend that they had a wounded animal on their property, which turned out to be a baby skunk that had suffered a head injury.

“I drive over there at 11 o’clock at night, it’s dark out, it’s up against a mountain way off the beaten path,” said Abbot. “It’s on the side of their driveway, and I spent a half-hour monitoring and watching.”

Abbott, whose father had been a conservation officer based in Nelson, had followed her father’s footsteps and worked with wildlife centres on the Lower Mainland before returning to the area two years ago. After observing the animal, seeing no blood, no visible injury, she began her series of calls to see if there was anywhere or anyone she could take the animal to. She found herself with no options.

“I just found out I don’t have the connections that I thought I had,” Abbott said.

After staying up all night, Abbott finally took the skunk to her local veterinarian, where the two of them agreed after analyzing the skunk that it was best put down. One of the factors in that decision was the lack of a nearby facility that could take in and care for the skunk for the length of its recovery.

“I would have to transport her to CritterCare in Vancouver, and that’s a seven-hour drive,” said Abbott. “I know that rehabbing skunks when they’re babies is okay as long as there’s no injuries, but if there’s something broken, it’s a long haul.”

It was an experience that Abbott never wants to repeat, and one that she hopes no other person or animal should have to go through.

One alternative to a larger facility like CritterCare would be a transition house, which Abbott is trying to put together. Animals would be stabilized, and then when they’re able, transported by volunteers to a facility capable of handling their long-term recovery.

It isn’t the first time since she came back to the region that she’s thought about establishing some more local services, but this latest experience has highlighted for her some of the obstacles in her way. The largest need she sees at the moment; local support.

“If I’m the one who has to think about getting some funding,” said Abbott. “I’m going to need a reason, and I’m going to need people behind me that are gonna start jumping and yelling for me to open.”

This was her fifth animal she’s tried to rescue since moving back, two of which currently live with her, because there was nowhere else for them to go.

“Every one of them has been absolutely gut-wrenching, because I’m completely helpless.”

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