From finding lost pets to rescuing injured wild animals, the Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network’s emergency response team has its hands full and is looking for more members.
CARE Network co-founder James Rodgers told the Westerly News that the team is being revamped due to increasing calls and is using the Volunteer Fire Department model as a template with ongoing and expanding training, including animal first aid.
“Part of the training is to stabilize the animals sufficiently to then transport them to services. Really what this comes down to is: there really isn’t anyone else out here to help with these situations,” he said, noting the nearest Conservation Officer Service detachment is in Port Alberni. “It really comes down to trying to make a service that has been going on for a number of years more sustainable, professional and efficient.”
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The team rescued a baby deer that had gotten itself stuck in a hedge in Ucluelet last month after being alerted to the situation by the Conservation Officer Service, which had received reports from residents.
Rodgers said the CARE team arrived at the scene within five minutes and set up temporary fencing around the fawn to allow it to recover without heading into traffic or being bothered by other animals.
“Fortunately, we drive around with the gear that we typically need for these types of things and we were able to not only get the deer unstuck, but contain the scene so that the deer had some time to recover,” he said. “It was a success.”
He said CARE helps “hundreds” of domesticated and wild animals throughout the West Coast region each year and the need is growing.
“With all our communities getting busier, there’s certainly bigger dog and cat populations than in the past,” he said. “Luckily there’s a team of very committed volunteers that not only want to help animals but want to help keep our communities healthy and safe.”
He added that sick or injured animals can attract predators into human use areas.
“We’re certainly very mindful of managing these emergency situations with that community safety lens. Whether it’s a sick or injured cat or a sick or injured eagle, if it’s in or around a human populated area, we’re likely to see a higher rate of human wildlife conflict situations,” he said. “The more proactive we are about managing human wildlife conflict situations or encounters, the fewer conflicts we’re going to see.”
Anyone interested in joining the team can fill out an application form at www.carenetwork.ca and a schedule is being worked out to balance in-person and online training and meetings.
“We’re getting some great applications from some really excited folks and at this point the biggest challenge is sitting down and working through all those applications between emergency calls that we get,” he said. “This is a program in development, it’s not written in stone, we really want to make it work for those people that are interested in being part of the team.”
He said the team responds to an emergency situation about every two days and cautions the work is both physically and emotionally challenging.
“Not all situations end well. There are all too often cases where animals either succumb to their injuries or need to be euthanized because of the extent of things or animals aren’t found,” he said.
“It really helps to have a team to support each other in those times where it doesn’t feel good and when hard decisions do need to be made. And also to be able to work through problems together and get multiple perspectives. The most experienced person in the room or on the scene might not come up with the answer, it might be the new person with a different perspective and that’s always really encouraging and exciting.”
Along with first aid and community outreach training, team members are also taught how to use a variety of tools, including a drone to find lost pets and a net gun to contain wild animals like eagles.
“We’re always adding to our tool chest and that really does help facilitate the work and keep everybody safe,” he said.
He added the work is rewarding.
“I’d like to say it’s selfless, but I don’t think it is selfless work because it does make us feel good that we’re out there helping not only these animals in need, but also our communities to be healthy and safe and strong,” he said. “It literally saves lives. it’s the most important thing if you are the guardian of the animal involved or the animal itself, it really can be life and death stuff.”
Anyone who sees an animal in distress is encouraged to report it to CARE at