Cape Wildlife Center to stay open through March 1

The Cape Wildlife Center will continue to operate through the winter while a longer term plan for the Barnstable-based facility is developed, according to a statement from the Humane Society of the United States.

 

The Humane Society and The Pegasus Foundation have joined forces to keep the wildlife animal rehabilitation center located on Route 6A open until March 1, according to the statement.

The foundation is an animal-welfare charity partially supported by Centerville philanthropist Barbara Birdsey.

The Humane Society had initially announced plans in October to close the center Nov. 18 and had stopped accepting injured wildlife. The news has stunned many people across the Cape, including individuals who have volunteered for Cape Wildlife Center and those who belong to environmental groups that have worked with the organization.

But Birdsey and Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle began working together to find other organizations or partners to take it over and keep it open.

“I’m immensely grateful to Barbara Birdsey and others for stepping up and allowing Cape Wildlife Center to operate during the winter months, albeit in a streamlined manner,” Pacelle said in an emailed statement. “We’ve always believed in the extraordinary work of the center, but just haven’t been able to get enough people to invest in this life-saving work. Maybe that changes starting today.”

The Cape Wildlife Center takes in about 1,500 animals a year, including wild turkeys, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, red-tailed hawks and northern red-bellied cooters, but it has been operating at a deficit for more than 20 years, Pacelle has said. The center also has the ability to treat larger animals such as coyotes and otters.

The Cape Wildlife facility operates on a budget of between $700,000 and $750,000 a year and on average only receives about $100,000 in donations, according to Pacelle.

The decision to keep it open through the winter will allow other agencies to work on a plan to continue wildlife rehabilitation services on Cape Cod, according to the statement from the Humane Society. Other organizations, including The New England Wildlife Center, IFAW, Tufts University and Wild Care in Eastham, are being asked for input on the plan.

Wild Care normally treats only smaller animals, such as seabirds, songbirds, squirrels, mice and chipmunks. There are no other wildlife rehabilitation centers on the Cape.

“Through March 1, Cape Wildlife Center will operate on a limited scale to provide emergency care and rehabilitation services for animals in need,” according to the statement from the Humane Society. “The center will depend on experienced and trained volunteers to augment the core staff who will remain.”

Anyone wishing to support the center can donate to a fund set up by The Pegasus Foundation for the purpose.

Donations may be made by PayPal at Pegasusfoundation.org. Select “Cape Wildlife Center” as the cause. Donations can be mailed to The Pegasus Foundation, P.O. Box 787, Hobe Sound, FL 33475. Indicate on the donation that the money is for Cape Wildlife Center.