Where Whitefish Wildlife Gets the Help it Needs

This is one of three bear cubs that recently came to Wild and Free, an animal rehabilitation center, after their mother was hit by a car and fatally injured. Photo via the Wild and Free Facebook page

Have you ever found an abandoned baby bird, or rabbit? With the abundance of wildlife on the Whitefish Chain, every now and then one gets into trouble. When it does, it's lucky to have Wild and Free, a local wildlife rehabilitation center, just a stone's throw away.

Wild and Free is located in Garrison, east of the Whitefish Chain, and is one of very few wildlife rehabilitation centers in the state. They take pretty much any kind of wild animal imaginable- black bears, loons, turtles, songbirds, rabbits squirrels, you name it. Wild and Free specializes in helping the animals get back to 100 percent health so that they can return to the wild and live out their natural lives, healthy.

With spring on the way, Wild and Free's Facebook page is already reporting that it is taking in baby animals. Spring is Wild and Free's most busy time, when babies begin to be born. Sometimes a mother deer, bear or squirrel has been hit by a car, and a good samaritan helps the babies.

That's already happened this year, as Wild and Free reports on Facebook that it has already taken in three black bear cubs. The organization reports that the mother black bear was hit by a car and injured, so a good samaritan followed the injured bear back to her den, where she had three cubs. The mother bear's wounds were fatal so the babies were brought to Wild and Free.

Wild and Free plans to use special handling techniques until it can either re-home the cubs with another den or carefully raise them until they can be released into the wild. When raising the cubs, the staff uses special gear to imitate a mother bear so that the cubs don't become accustomed to humans.

Wild and Free also recently took in a hurt and starving bobcat that was filled with porcupine quills, a bald eagle that was hit by a car, and a trumpeter swan with a fishing hook in its eye.

In 2017 Wild and Free helped more than 600 animals, the most it's ever helped in a year in its more than 30 years as an organization. Incredibly, it did it all with donated funds. The organization is a non-profit and receives no government funding whatsoever. You can help Wild and Free by donating either your time or money to the cause of helping injured wild animals not only from around the Whitefish Chain but, often, from across the state.

To learn more about how you can help Wild and Free, visit their website or Facebook. You can become a member and receive regular updates from the organization or make a one-time donation. Donations of time are also greatly appreciated, and the organization posts a wish list on its website of the things it needs most.

If you find a wild animal that's hurt or needs medical care, contact Wild and Free. They are happy to provide advice on what to do to help an animal or organize its care. Reach them by phone at 320-692-4180.

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