Wildlife rescue volunteer course to be offered
by Wes Mayer
This month, the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association will be holding a training course in Morrow for aspiring wildlife rescuers, and the class is filling up.
The class, titled “Basic Emergency Care and Procedure for Injured or Orphaned Wildlife,” will be held on April 26 at The Morrow Center at Southlake Mall. According to Chet Powell, executive director of the GWRA, the class is designed to teach volunteers how to be first responders to a rescue call, determine whether an animal truly needs to be rescued, how to treat or stabilize the animal and then transport it to the nearest wildlife preservation center.
The class is a one-day, all-day course and will cost $60 for non-members of the GWRA — it will cost $40 for those who are members. Powell said the maximum capacity for the class is about 250 people. The class is entirely volunteer-based and meant particularly for people who love wild animals.
“People began registering immediately after we announced it on our Facebook page, and the class is nearly half full already,” Powell noted. “We are especially looking for volunteers in… counties on or near the Atlantic coast from the Florida line to Savannah, the I-16 corridor that includes Savannah, Statesboro and Swainsboro, the area around Augusta, the northwest corner of the state that includes Rome and also the Columbus and LaGrange areas.”
Powell said he hopes to add more volunteers across the state and have waiting lists of volunteers for each county in case the first volunteer called is unable to respond. This is the fourth year the GWRA has taught the course, and the association holds the volunteer courses in the spring because it is baby season — more baby animals are likely become orphaned.
Volunteers will be taught by experts in all fields of wildlife, such as birds of prey, fawn and deer, and even sea turtle experts, Powell said.
“People tend to forget that Georgia is a very big and diverse state with mountains in the north, a substantial coastline, the Okefenokee Swamp and the Coastal Plain,” Powell said, “so our wildlife rescues involve everything from small mammals like rabbits, foxes and skunks to large ones like deer and bears. We rescue freshwater turtles, gopher tortoises and sea turtles and birds ranging from hummingbirds to raptors such as hawks, owls and bald eagles to big wading birds and sea birds.”
The GWRA will not be the only organization participating in the course. More personnel and experts from The Androcles Society, the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort, the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Laurens Wildlife Rescue, Southeastern Reptile Rescue, the St. Francis Wildlife Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also be present for the one-day class.
For additional information, including videos, photos and information on the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association, Powell suggested visiting the association’s Facebook page. To register for the class, those interested may visit www.georgiawildliferescue.org .