Filled with baby opossums, in the middle of chimney swift fledgling season and with a wave of baby squirrels on the horizon, cash-strapped Carolina Wildlife Center might have to stop taking in injured and orphaned animals.
The nonprofit animal rehabilitation group put out the word of its financial plight to supporters last week, and small donations quickly began arriving. But the organization will need many more of the small donations to hit the $140,000 goal to keep operating through the end of the year, said executive director Jay Coles.
“Current donation levels are simply not enough to cover our operating costs,” Coles said.
The problem is two-fold. Most nonprofits have struggled with falling donations in recent years. Meanwhile, Carolina Wildlife Center has earned a reputation in the past 25 years as the only group of its kind in the Midlands, prompting more people to bring in orphaned or injured wildlife.
Taking in 20 percent more wild birds, reptiles and mammals this year (nearly 2,000 so far) means higher costs for food and supplies. It costs $62 per animal and about $25,000 per month to run the operation, Coles said.
The nonprofit’s board next week will have to make the tough decision on whether to stop taking in animals. The timing is important because late July is when people tend to bring in dozens of baby squirrels. If those animals are taken in, the center is making a 12-week commitment to care for them before releasing them to the wild, Coles said.
“I’ve got to know I’m covered (financially) for three months if I take that animal in the door,” Coles said.
If the center does stop taking in new animals, it will remain in operation to care for those already in its care. And it could ramp up rehabilitation efforts again if enough money is raised, Coles said.
Carolina Wildlife Center, which has 16 part-time employees and dozens of avid volunteer workers, receives no state or federal funding. It is dependent on private gifts.
To contribute, got online to carolinawildlife.org or mail or drop off donations at 5551 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC, 29212.
A partnership of education and recycling
Midlands Biofuels recently presented $2,600 to the District 5 Foundation (of Lexington-Rihland 5) as part of an agreement to fund education grants and encourage the recycling of used cooking oil.
Under the agreement, local restaurants and residents are encouraged to sell their used cooking oil to Midlands Biofuels. A percentage of the payment for each gallon of the cooking oil is given back to the District 5 Foundation for education grants and student projects.
“It’s really all about giving back to our schools,” District 5 Foundation president, Paula Hite said. “We hope that more people will participate in the program next year, so that these funds can help our students and teachers do important research projects. We’re looking forward to continuing the program and seeing it grow.”
Midlands Biofuels, which is S.C.-based, produces biodiesels using cooking oils and provides collection containers and pickup of the oil products as part of the initiative.
Bertram Rantin contributed.