Less than three days after Piedmont Wildlife Center closed its rehabilitation clinic, many of the center's former board members and employees announced they are starting a new nonprofit, the Triangle Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic (TWRC). (See "Financial woes prompt wildlife clinic to close early," July 8.)
TWRC will be at the former Piedmont clinic location, 1417 Seaton Road in Durham. Organizers plan to open the first week of August.
Pamela Bayne, TWRC founder and president, says she formed the group to provide rehabilitation and on-site medical care for wildlife native to North Carolina. "Piedmont's clinic closing leaves a void in wildlife care in the Triangle," she says.
The new organization plans to focus exclusively on veterinary care and rehabilitation. Lesley Martin, former Piedmont veterinarian, will work at the TRWC hospital.
Of the 11 board members listed on the Piedmont Web site, eight have resigned, most within the last month.
Bayne left the board after it decided in June to shutter the clinic, which closed three weeks early, July 6. "I was more than a little distressed," Bayne says. "This is active baby season."
Since the Piedmont clinic closed, Bayne says she has received an increased number of calls about injured wildlife. For example, someone found a starving, red-tailed hawk near Jordan Lake. "I went and got it, and the wonderful thing about having a veterinarian is that she could do the lab work and surgery, if need be—the things that a normal rehabilitator can't do."
Former board Vice President Karen McKinnon, who abstained from the board's June vote, resigned July 10. She says she was an "emotional basket case," adding, "I was stunned when it [the vote] went through."
McKinnon has joined TWRC's board as vice president, she says, because the wildlife community needs not only a clinic but also a resource for wildlife rehabilitators. "There were so many wildlife rehabilitators in this community who have squirrels, rabbits and birds in their homes," McKinnon says. "They need a place they can go to for veterinarian care when they get in over their heads."
Former Piedmont board member and Treasurer Christopher Cramer resigned July 9. He is now TWRC's secretary. " "You don't know you need this type of service until you're faced with a situation," Cramer says "I strongly support the PWC mission, but when they had to close operations of the clinic, I felt that something had to be done,"
Cramer says he believes there is sufficient community support to run a "small, lean organization." TWRC's board is projecting an estimated annual budget of $50,000.
"Every dollar donated is going to the veterinarian, medication, food and running the building," Cramer says. "We want to keep this manageable and focused."
Bayne says TWRC won't compete with Piedmont's education and research mission, which it is continuing. "There cannot be enough people taking care of wildlife in the Triangle."
Piedmont Executive Director Gail Abrams commended TWRC for its initiative. "We had trouble raising money for the hospital in the past, and we hope the community will support them," she says. "If the closing of the hospital is how it happened, then we're very happy to have done it, so that this new organization could form."
TWRC requests prospective donors contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 908, Carrboro, NC 27510.