Many times over the past two years, Scott and Linda Stromer have retrieved injured or orphaned animals in Skagit County and taken them to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal to get them to Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island.
Sometimes, when those critters have recovered, the Stromers have released them into their natural habitat.
“It’s pretty rewarding just to know you helped in saving an animal, and sometimes getting to release them,” Scott Stomer said. “We’ve taken everything from baby birds to many different kinds and sizes of owls, and hawks, possums, squirrels.”
The Stromers are two of 14 such volunteers in Skagit County.
Wolf Hollow staff and board members say they need more volunteers to keep the operation running smoothly and to improve the odds of saving injured or orphaned wildlife.
“We need to recruit more people with the passion to help wildlife,” Executive Director Chanda Stone said.
Scott Stromer said although he and Linda, who are both retired and live between Mount Vernon and Clear Lake, have rarely turned down calls from Wolf Hollow, he can see the need for a larger roster of volunteers.
Sometimes, particularly in the summer, calls can come often.
“It would be nice if we could get a couple more volunteers,” Scott Stromer said.
From common gray squirrels to rare leucistic bald eagles, Wolf Hollow gets many injured or orphaned animals from Skagit County each year. In fact, about half of the animals treated at the center come from Skagit County.
From January through November, 184 animals were taken by ferry, or sometimes flown, from Skagit County to the San Juan Island wildlife center. Some came from Anacortes neighborhoods not far from the ferry dock and others from as far east as Concrete.
For those animals, Wolf Hollow volunteers are like emergency responders. When Wolf Hollow gets word of a candidate for rehabilitation — a hawk hit by a car, for example — it coordinates with nearby volunteers to get the animal to the Friday Harbor facility.
Now, Wolf Hollow is hoping to grow that volunteer team.
Having more volunteers could increase the chances that help will be available when an animal is in need, and increase the speed with which that animal can receive care.
“The sooner we receive the animal after it is injured, the better the prospects are that the animal will respond well to treatment, recover and be returned to the wild,” Stone said. “Volunteers play a vital role in wildlife rehabilitation.”
Wolf Hollow has received a $4,000 grant from the Skagit Community Foundation to increase outreach to potential volunteers.
Training for new recruits will likely take place in February and March, ahead of the wildlife center’s busy season during which Stone said the facility can have as many as 60 patients at once.
This year, patients from Skagit County have included gray squirrels, cottontail rabbits, short-eared owls, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, Vaux’s swifts, song sparrows and mallard ducks — many of which have passed through the Stromers’ hands.
“Sometimes we have to actually catch the animal, sometimes we go to people’s houses if they’ve caught it, and sometimes we go to an animal clinic where it’s been dropped off,” Scott Stromer said.
Some of the most memorable animals include a barred owl injured and released near La Conner, a Canada goose injured and released in the Skagit Flats, and a crow injured and released at the SWIFT Center in Sedro-Woolley.
“We didn’t realize we’d be getting so many birds, but we’ve gotten hummingbirds and crows and gulls, anything that is wild,” Scott Stromer said.
For information about volunteering: wolfhollowwildlife.org/volunteer.