VIRGINIA BEACH — Wildlife Response Inc., a nonprofit organization that for years has been developing an animal rehabilitation complex, is still chipping away improving land it leases from the city along Indian River Road.
Bill Haynie, the group’s president and building committee chair, worked at the site of the Wildlife Response and Rehabilitation Center with volunteer Glen Silloway on a recent Saturday, nailing tall boards to more than 350 linear feet of fence that will be a paddock where young deer will be restored to health.
“A nice Saturday morning workout,” Silloway said.
Nearby were other works in progress – such as a tall eagle run that extends 100 feet, the longest one they know of in Virginia.
There are also a number of substantially completed structures.
Those include three raptor muses, bat houses, a caretaker’s quarters and a songbird haven with three octagon-shaped buildings that are 14 feet in diameter and are connected by vestibules.
There is also a raccoon village, a squirrel enclosure and solar and rain barrel towers to help provide electricity and water for washing cages and other tasks.
That keeps them from needing to run plumbing out into the woods, Haynie said.
It was a humid morning, the men worked among mosquitoes, too.
“I’m usually a combination of DEET, aftershave and sweat,” Haynie quipped.
The nonprofit plans to open this coming spring.
The group has faced some delays – among them, the discovery of rare bats living in the caretaker’s house that significantly delayed work there – and some media attention due to the delays.
The city backed the Wildlife Response center though the Virginia Beach SPCA has plans for its own facility, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Haynie said he hopes the facility will help other organizations engaged in rescue work locally. “They’re all going to be welcome to use the facilities and work with us.”The volunteers are working toward completing the project and opening the facility.
“I hope they will be complete and open soon,” said City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District. “It certainly involved a lot people, and they had a lot of participation, and that’s all good.”
The organization has visited district town hall meetings hosted by Henley to give updates on progress. Henley noted that the land, which has posed challenges in part because it is low, might have become housing.
“I think we’re ultimately going to have this really fantastic facility there that’s great for the city and great for the animals,” Henley said.
The nonprofit is looking for more volunteers and donations, Haynie noted, but existing volunteers, including people who rehabilitate wildlife in their homes, are hard at work to complete the project.
Members take care of orphaned, displaced or injured native wildlife, and that work will continue with the facility as a resource.
“Once we become operational, we think things will improve,” Haynie said.
The operation may be able to attract more donors and grant money.
“We’re just trying to do something good out here,” he said. “There are a lot of good people who have put their own money, sweat and tears into this place. It’s a community endeavor, and we need the community to support it.”
Haynie said the group is always looking for volunteer support on Saturday mornings, and they could benefit from the interest of local builders.
And donations are always welcome, he said.
Information about Wildlife Response, Inc., is available online at wildliferesponse.org, or follow the group on social media. Reach the organization via (757) 543-7000.
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