On September 12th, 2019 Erie Wildlife Rescue hosted an evening to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary of incorporation. Over 50 people attended, and a very enjoyable evening was had by all. Below is the text of the welcoming address as composed by Ellen Hedges, and presented by Sherri Douglas. Following the address, MPP Hatfield offered his congratulations, and presented EWR with a certificate to commemorate the occasion.
Good evening, and thank you for coming. Welcome members, friends, and special guests; Federal Candidate Cheryl Hardcastle, MPP Percy Hatfield, and representatives from the Essex Region Conservation Authority, the WFCU Credit Union, the University of Windsor and the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation.
It is hard to believe that 40 years has passed since a group of enterprising individuals got together to provide care for the orphaned and injured wildlife of Windsor-Essex County by founding Erie Wildlife Rescue (EWR) in 1978, and achieving incorporation in June 1979. EWR has grown from a home-based organization without official government status, to a charitable corporation with a dedicated group of members, volunteers, part-time staff, and a permanent, multi-functional Centre, complete with outdoor pre-release housing. In 2018, 82 volunteers gave in excess of 5000 hours of service to EWR, caring for over 600 birds, mammals and reptiles.
As EWR has expanded and grown, the field of wildlife rehabilitation also evolved. What was once a field of amateurs has become much more precise, with scientists, veterinarians and professionals now dedicated to researching and perfecting the treatment and care of wildlife. Cow’s milk and whipping cream have been replaced by milk substitutes scientifically formulated to provide optimal nutrition based on species and age. Wildlife rehabilitators are no longer isolated and alone; we have the benefit of the internet and social media to provide information, and the ability to quickly consult with other like-minded individuals, as well as specialized centres. Opportunities now exist for wildlife rehabilitators to attend conferences and trainings hosted by a wide variety of organizations, on local and international levels. While the field of wildlife rehabilitation has changed, the underlying premise is the same; a compassion for wildlife, and the desire to offer rehabilitation for animals in distress. That was true for the founders of Erie Wildlife Rescue in 1978, and it is true for the dedicated members and volunteers in 2019.
Of course EWR could not have reached this milestone without the support of the community. Our members, and followers on Facebook are right in there when we ask for donations of supplies or funds, and other community organizations are integral to the continued operation of EWR. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of those organizations and people that are here this evening.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Ms. Hardcastle and the Government of Canada for funding the grants for summer jobs. Summer is the busiest time here at the Centre, and can be pretty hectic, and the additional help is vital to the day-to-day care of the wildlife that is housed here. EWR has taken advantage of the grant program every year since 2008, employing 7 youth for a total of 1755 hours this past summer.
An important source of volunteers for EWR, is the University of Windsor VIP-Community Service Learning program, and thank you to Jane Sylvester for attending this evening. EWR is pleased to offer these youths a work experience in a different type of environment, which can be especially valuable to those students in the biology field, and who may be considering a career in animal health.
Thank you to Mary Baruth and the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation for lending their support to EWR and working with us to assist injured waterfowl. They very graciously offer their pond area for soft releases, or a home for birds that are permanently grounded.
A special thank you to Gwen and Dennis Patrick who are long-term members of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, and the past-coordinator of the Ambassador Bridge Watch Group. When the female Peregrine named Voltaire was tragically killed last year, the Patrick’s offered the funds to have her mounted and provided a display case so that she might act as an ambassador -no pun intended- for wildlife and help to educate people in their value, especially those species that are at risk, like the Peregrine Falcon. Voltaire has a special place in our hearts here; she was injured in 2015, and cared for by EWR for a short time until she was successfully released. After her release, Voltaire went on to produce 12 more chicks before her untimely death; she was 12 years old. EWR works closely with the Watch group during the hazardous fledging period to ensure the young Peregrines stay healthy and has cared for a number of these impressive birds.
Thank you to Bob Hall-Brooks who has been assisting with banding some of the birds before their release, as well as assisting with small construction projects, like a raptor transport box. Bob is also active with the Ambassador Bridge Peregrine Watch.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the WFCU Credit Union and their Community Donations Fund. Thank you Beth Ann Prince from the Corporate Office; the grants received from the WFCU have been an important source of funding for the supplies and equipment needed to care for the wildlife entrusted to EWR.
Thank you all for coming. Thank you for your support. Thank you to our dedicated members; some who have been with the group for almost the whole 40 years. I would like to invite anyone who is interested, to join EWR staff for a short tour of the facility, and to learn a bit more about what EWR offers to wildlife and to the community.
I would like to close with a sentiment from Dr. Tony Braithwaite DVM, a member of the founding Board of Directors, “I hope the evening is a huge success – and I wish you all the very best in the next 40 years of dedicated service to the orphaned and injured wild animals in Essex County”.