British Columbia counts its abundance and diversity of wildlife among its greatest attractions. But interactions between wild animals and humans can often lead to injuries or displacement for wild animals in urban settings.
Breanne Beckett, the BC SPCA’s senior manager for the Victoria area, says the task of keeping wild animals safe is a significant undertaking that requires a community effort between conservation officials, the BC SPCA, municipalities, local veterinarians, and members of the public.
“No one wants to see these beautiful animals suffering, so we all do our part to protect wildlife in our communities – it really does ‘take a village’.” She adds that it’s important for members of the public in Greater Victoria to know which agencies can help, and what to do if they find an injured wild animal.
“There is no ambulance for wildlife,” says Beckett. She notes that each agency has a specific jurisdiction and mandate that they must operate within, and there is also a key role for others in the community. “With the exception of dangerous wild animals such as bears and cougars, which are handled by the BC Conservation Officer Service, all agencies rely on volunteers and members of the public to transport wild animals to an appropriate facility for treatment and rehabilitation,” she says. “This role is so vital in ensuring that animals get the life-saving care they need.” To become a wild animal transport volunteer in Greater Victoria, visit wildarc.com/volunteer.
Here’s a guide to helping wild animals in need in Greater Victoria:
If you are experiencing problems or have concerns about dangerous wildlife in your community (i.e. bears, cougars, wolves), please call the BC Conservation Officer Service RAPP hotline at 1-877-952-7277. Please note that the BC Conservation Officer Service is unable to attend incidents involving nuisance conflicts with wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, crows, geese, deer and other ungulates.
Injured or orphaned wildlife
If you observe injured or abandoned wild animals in the Greater Victoria area, please call either the BC SPCA Animal Helpline (1-855-622-7722), BC Conservation Officer Service (1-877-952-7277) or the non-emergency RCMP or local police department, as advised (1-888-506-RCMP).
1. BC SPCA Animal Helpline. The SPCA Animal Helpline can assist by providing guidance on next steps, including:
- A remote assessment of the situation, with your assistance;
- Advice on available support for containment and transport of wild animals;
- Instructions on how to safely contain a wild animal;
- Advice on transporting a wild animal in critical distress to the nearest veterinary facility for veterinary assessment;
- Advice on transporting the wild animal to the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC);
- Help to find your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre in B.C.
2. BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC). The BC SPCA’s wild animal rehabilitation centre, located at 1020 Malloch Road in Metchosin, cares for nearly 3,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. Wildlife rehabilitators at the SPCA centre treat approximately 140 different species of wild animals annually, from hummingbirds and eagles to orphaned fawns and river otters. Injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals can be brought to Wild ARC daily from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. between May 1 and August 31, and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. between September 1 and April 30. Open on all statutory holidays.
3. BC SPCA Victoria Community Animal Centre. Some injured or orphaned wild animals can be dropped off at the BC SPCA’s Community Animal Centre in Victoria at 3150 Napier Lane for transport to Wild ARC. Due to animal health and safety protocols, certain wild animals cannot be temporarily housed at the Victoria Centre and must be taken directly to Wild ARC. Wild animals that cannot be brought to the Victoria Centre are: bats, deer fawns, wild Eastern Cottontail rabbits, domestic feral rabbits, and adult river otters, mink, beavers, weasels and raccoons. Animals dropped off at the Victoria Centre must be safely contained prior to arrival and a wild animal intake form must be completed, either through the BC SPCA Animal Helpline, or on site at the centre. On arrival, please ring the doorbell and a staff member will assist you at the door. Intake hours are daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. between May 1 and August 31, and from noon to 3:30 p.m. between September 1 and April 30. Closed on statutory holidays.
- Learn more about co-existing with wild animals, how to rescue an injured wild animal and supports available in Greater Victoria at Wild ARC.
- Find the wildlife rehabilitator nearest you at the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of BC .
- Sign up for WildSense, the BC SPCA’s e-newsletter featuring wildlife stories from around BC.
“Wild animals rely on us to keep them safe and to ensure they get the care they need if they are injured or orphaned,” says Beckett. “It is inspiring to see the community of Greater Victoria coming together to make this happen.”