After a busy summer for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Alison Withey, Director of Advancement and Communications, is calling on the community for support.
“Animal intakes at the sanctuary are on the rise year over year,” Withey says. Over 1,100 animals were admitted last summer and she believes that number will be higher once summer ends this year. Currently, she says, the sanctuary is caring for the aforementioned moose and cubs on top of “hundreds” of other orphaned animals. The most common animals the sanctuary cares for are raccoons, deer, beavers, and otters, but Withey says 98 other species come through their doors.
With intake expected to climb, the sanctuary has set a fundraising goal of $50,000 before the end of the year.
Withey compares caring for and rehabilitating these animals to owning a pet. She says when you get a dog or a cat, you understand there is a base cost associated with that: buying food, toys, and annual check-ups with a veterinarian. However, there are also unassociated costs like unexpected vet visits. With the sanctuary taking in three moose calves and seven bear cubs, Withey says that would be like an unexpected vet visit. “When we welcome into the sanctuary such large animals, it does impact the amount of food we need to buy, it affects the number of enclosures we need to get ready for them,” she explains.
“We’re pivoting every time an animal comes in,” Withey continues. “We have to pivot our resources.”
Recently, that meant postponing plans to build a new enclosure for the wolves. “When we get in these extras moose and bears that we didn’t anticipate, the money that would have gone to the wolves will temporarily go to feed these animals,” Withey says.
While fundraising is vital, so is bringing in new volunteers. “We have over 100 volunteers each year taking on part-time and full-time roles,” Withey explains. “Some even stay overnight at the sanctuary for several weeks at a time so they can wake up in the wee hours of the morning and feed the little animals by, literally, a syringe right through until they’re released.”
Withey says volunteer roles range from caring for animals, being a tour guide, gardener, maintenance, fundraising, or updating the sanctuary’s social media. “There are layers and layers of opportunities to help out,” Withey says.
She asks anyone interested in donating or volunteering to reach out to the sanctuary through its website.