By Nick Bernard
Each year, the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary holds a fundraiser to help support the work they do in rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured animals across the highlands. This year, with the ongoing pandemic, the sanctuary is going online by encouraging the public to “Bid Wild 4 Wildlife,” with their online charity auction.
“We’d prefer to do a real kind of gathering, like a dinner and dance party, but that’s been impossible,” said Monika Melichar, who is the founder and head wildlife rehabilitator at the sanctuary. While this is the fourth such fundraiser of this kind, this year’s auction will be conducted through another local company, ShopCloseBuy, an online auction and e-commerce site.
“They’re based out of Haliburton, so it keeps the business here in our community,” Melichar explained.
The auction, with more than 150 items to bid on, runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 5. All proceeds raised will help fund the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. Items on offer include works by local artists, including an oil painting by James Woods, a watercolour by Nancy Kursbatt, hand-carved pieces by Eric Almeida, and a chainsaw-carved piece by Walter Vanderwindt.
Throughout the year the sanctuary is busy with human and animal activity alike, from the volunteers, led by founder and head wildlife rehabilitator Monika Melichar, to the hundreds of animals in their care.
“We have our core group of volunteers that have been with me for many many years,” Melichar said. Because of the pandemic, it’s been difficult to attract new volunteers. However, that has not slowed down the pace of animals that have come through their doors this year: “We’ve helped over 750 animals so far.”
On top of that, the sanctuary built a new enclosure to house the high number of animals, as well as extensions to their ICU and nursery buildings, which has brought running water to those facilities for the first time in the sanctuary’s decades-long history. It’s been a huge project for the sanctuary, and has made things at the sanctuary much easier. With the major upgrades done, Monika says the sanctuary is now focused on maintaining their facilities and maintaining the quality of care of the animals.
“Medicine, and the medical treatment of some of these animals, is quite expensive,” Melichar explains. As well, the sanctuary must keep a regular stock of specialty foods that are required for the baby animals in the spring, including milk meant specifically for animals like squirrels and deer. On top of all that, they need money to maintain the regular day-to-day operations of the sanctuary.
“On a typical day, all the diets are prepared and they get handed out,” Melichar said as she explains what a day at the sanctuary entails. The sanctuary also handles medical procedures like stitching and bandaging, as well as keeping the animals climatized comfortably while they recuperate.
In addition to financial support, Melichar said the sanctuary is still looking for volunteers, including drivers and other support positions that don’t necessarily require the handling of animals.
“We’re going to be looking for volunteers that maybe don’t want to work with the animals necessarily, but want to be part of the sanctuary,” she explained. “And they can do things like promotions and advertising … helping us with our social media and newsletter and things like that.”
In addition to this year’s online auction, the community is encouraged to support the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary through direct monetary donation, making a purchase on their Amazon wishlist, or donating supplies from their list of requested items on the sanctuary’s website.
The auction will be hosted Nov. 22 to Dec. 5 at haliburtonhighlands.shopcloseby.ca, with a list of items available to view now.
You can find more information about Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary, including details on how you can lend your support, by visiting their website at woodlandswildlifesanctuary.ca.
Paying it forward
What: Online holiday auction
Benefitting: Minden Rotary efforts
When: Nov. 13 to Nov. 27
What: Not-so-silent auction
Benefitting: Medeba’s COVID-19 relief fund
When: Nov. 20
Where: RSVP to email@example.com for the Zoom link
What: Women’s Business Network of Peterborough charity auction
Benefitting: YWCA Peterborough Haliburton
When: Nov. 24 to Dec. 8