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Doin’ Good: South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 1:40 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KJTV) - In Lubbock, keeping wildlife safe is a top priority for experts with the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

For 33 years, the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is the go-to for injured, orphaned or sick wild animals.

Gail Barnes has been a part of the effort for 21 years.

“I hatched Titan from an egg,” she said.

Titan is an owl. It is one of many animals Barnes has helped over the years. Now Titan is a mascot for Jayne N Miller Elementary school.

Barnes says the wildlife center is one of the oldest nonprofits in Lubbock, and their goal is twofold. First to rehabilitate and return wildlife to its native habitat. Second is environmental education for the community.

“We usually do about 110 environmental education programs every year,” said Barnes.

The more than 100 programs are back this year after pandemic protocols shut much of in-person education down.

We asked Barnes what kind of animals they typically see needing help in our area.

“We take in everything except raccoons. We see a lot of squirrels. This year we had more possums than ever. skunks. there’s raccoons. Porcupines.. We got in a porcupine just two weeks ago.”

They don’t take raccoons because they can carry roundworm, a dangerous disease.

Deer are also not accepted due to the recent announcement of Chronic Wasting Disease in our area.

“We take in about 3,000 animals a year. Each year that number grows.”

There is a drop-off building open 24 hours, but staff are there from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day. In an emergency, someone with the rehabilitation center can meet you if it is late at night.

If you do find yourself needing to take in an animal, it is important to fill out forms so the center knows where the animal came from. If you find a wild animal that is hurt or orphaned, call the wildlife center. Also send photos of the animal so staffers can identify the age and if it needs to be brought in.

“Please, if you find native wildlife, don’t try to take it in yourself,” she said.

Barnes said animals are different from us. We may not fully understand a situation when coming upon it, which is why it is best to call the experts.

“When the baby birds are on the ground.. the parents a lot of times push them out of the nest and they’re teaching them survival skills. People think that since they’re on the ground they need to rescue them.”

The center has private tours - which is one way the nonprofit raises money. They operate on donations and grants.

There are also volunteer opportunities available. To find the application and liability waiver, go to their website at https://spwrc.org/volunteer-opportunities, or call 806-799-2142.

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