2019 in Review: Wildlife Care Center

By Stephanie Herman, Wildlife Care Center Manager

This past year was a wild ride. We cared for 4,011 animals- a record high! To put that in perspective, in 2018 we cared for just over 3,000 animals, so that’s almost a 30% increase in just one year. Interestingly, we saw increases in species intakes across the board, with native mammals (like bats, chipmunks, and ground squirrels) representing the only statistically significant proportional increase.

That means we’re seeing more animals overall, although we’re not yet sure why.

A Red-shouldered Hawk is treated in the Wildlife Care Center after a window collision.

The top four known causes of injury were cats (24%: 962 animals), car collisions (16%: 641 animals), window strikes (13%: 521 animals), and well-meaning people unknowingly rescuing healthy babies (10%: 401 animals). As you’ll notice, these are all dangers that animals are exposed to because of people. That’s why Portland Audubon’s greater mission to engage, educate, and advocate is so incredibly important to us at the Wildlife Care Center.

Our work treating injured animals at the Care Center is paired with innovative campaigns to reduce the primary causes of wildlife injury such as the Cats Safe at Home Campaign in partnership with the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, Birdsafe Portland to reduce window collisions, Lights Out to reduce light pollution, and other efforts to reduce poisons, poaching, and use of lead ammunition.  

At the Care Center, our outreach and education primarily takes the form of working with callers, animal rescuers, and visitors. But every year, we miss calls simply due to the sheer volume we receive. In an attempt to remedy that, for 2019 we increased our coverage significantly, and answered a record 13,000 calls and emails! June 19 was the busiest day on the phone (71 logged calls!), and June 13 was the busiest intake day (49 animals!). We’ve got some new ideas to try in 2020, and I expect our community engagement numbers to only go up from here.

On a personal note, 2019 will always be the bright year when I came to Portland and began working in this beautiful and dedicated community. I have been continually impressed by this place and the innumerable people I meet through this work who care passionately for wildlife and our environment. So I want you to know that whether you are a volunteer who kept the center running, a supporter or donor, a caller who cared enough to try to solve a wildlife conflict humanely, or one of the 4,000+ people who rescued an animal, you have made a difference for our wildlife, for our community, and for me.

On behalf of the Wildlife Care Center team, thank you for 2019, and let’s keep up the great work in 2020!