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Crafting for Wildlife with the Virginia Master Naturalist

This raccoon has a secure place to climb — or rest — through work done by Crafting for Wildlife. — Submitted Michelle Reynolds

Organization creates projects that benefit animals, birds

By Michelle Reynolds

Master Naturalist

Several species of wildlife enter rehabilitation facilities every year. Mostly during the spring and summer seasons when wildlife is more active. Some of these species are raccoons, squirrels, opossums, skunks, fox, woodchucks, bats as well as several species of birds. These are orphaned, ill or injured mammals and birds that just need a helping hand to get back into nature where they belong. Some of the rehabilitator groups in our area including Wildlife Response Inc. in Virginia Beach and Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk, as well as many others. You can find information about many of other permitted rehabbers on the Department of Fish and Game website https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/.

In order for these groups to care for the animals and birds that come into their care they depend on volunteers, donations and fundraising to help provide food, shelter and veterinary cost. Crafting for Wildlife is an approved project started by the Virginia Master Naturalist. Our goal is to work on craft projects for cages such as hammocks, nest boxes, climbing trees and enrichment toys for the animals and birds.With basic sewing skills and simple woodworking this will help to provide safe items for cages and enrichment items to help transition wildlife back into the wild.

Volunteers are welcome in so many ways. Simply donating items such as newspaper, cleaning supplies, dog food, bird seed and money helps, but your time is more valuable and the most welcomed.  Wildlife rehabilitation is a way to help conserve and protect our natural flora and fauna here in the Hampton Roads area and to learn more about the local environment.

Rehabbers are a wonderful resource to call or email with any questions or concerns of with wildlife. They are very busy people, and many have full-time jobs on top of their family and volunteer time so please be patient if interested in something other than emergencies. They will get back to you as soon as they can. There is a hotline for wildlife emergencies available through Wildlife Response Hotline at 498-2660.

It is illegal to possess and take in wildlife without a permit in Virginia. These rehabbers have special training and skills needed in order to care for different species but if anyone is interested in becoming a permitted wildlife rehabilitator this is a great place to start.

Caring for these animals takes a lot of time. Crafting for Wildlife can help to assist these rehabbers with much-needed time by helping to make the resources they need to care for birds and animals. By volunteering you are able to help many rehabbers in the Hampton Roads area. Remember, by volunteering for this project you gain volunteer hours as well. This is an ongoing project and open to your ideas and time.

If anyone is interested in Crafting for Wildlife, questions can be routed through the Isle of Wight Extension Office at 365-6261 during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.