Category Archives: RVWS in the News

Open House 2019

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s annual Open House/Doors Open Ottawa will take place June 1 and 2, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

There will be tours of the wildlife centre where you can see wildlife being fed through one-way viewing windows, displays, music, a silent auction, bake sale, used book sale, bar-b-q, kids games and more. It is a family friendly event so please bring the kids! Although we love all animals, please leave pets at home.

Admission is free, although we gratefully accept donations and items from our wishlist. Registration is not required. Free parking is available on the street. Our address is 3370 Mulholland Rd, North Gower.

We would also be grateful for business donations of new goods or services to our silent auction. You can sign-up here or call us at 613-258-9480. To donate used books, please sign-up here.

It takes up to 40 volunteers each day to help the event run smoothly. If you would like to help by volunteering, you can sign-up here.

Hope to see you then!

2019 RVWS Calendar

Our 2019 calendar is here! The calendar features beautiful photos and stories of our wild patients. Order early as we sold out last year. Shipping begins mid-November. 

To order by Paypal, choose the quantity below. When you click the “buy now” button, you will see the total billed amount and quantity of 1–don’t worry, we’ll know how many calendars you ordered. You can also send a cheque to PO Box 266, North Gower, ON K0A 2T0. Thank you for supporting wildlife in need.

Number of calendars

B&H grocer comes to the rescue

Huge thanks go out to B&H Your Community Grocer, and owners Jim and Judy Beveridge, for providing weekly donations of meat and fish all summer to help our six orphaned foxes thrive and grow. B&H Your Community Grocer is family owned and has been operating at 301 Rideau Street in Kemptville since 1963. They focus on local meat, produce, dairy and grocery products as well as store-made meals, sausages, breads and pies. Please give a shoutout and send them some business! Thanks also go to Nickie for arranging this wonderful community collaboration and making weekly deliveries.

Open House 2018

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s annual Open House will take place June 2 and 3, 2018, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

There will be tours of the wildlife centre where you can see wildlife being fed through one-way viewing windows, displays, a silent auction, bake sale, bar-b-q, kids games and more. As usual, the band, Grateful We’re Not Dead, will be performing their classic country, rock and blues tunes. It is a family friendly event so please bring the kids! Although we love all animals, please leave pets at home.

Admission is free, although we gratefully accept donations and items from our wishlist. Registration is not required. Free parking is available on the street and we will have shuttles to bring you to the wildlife centre.

We would also be grateful for for business donations of new goods or services to our silent auction.

If you would like to help by volunteering at the Open House, you can sign-up here.

Hope to see you then!

Summer Student Job Opportunities

RVWS is now accepting applications for summer student positions. Please note that these jobs are still pending approval, expected in mid to late April, under the Canada Summer Jobs program. To be eligible under the program, students must:

– be between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the start of employment;
– have been registered as a full-time student during the preceding academic year;
– intend to return to school on a full-time basis during the next academic year;
– be a student in a secondary, post-secondary, CEGEP (Quebec only), vocational or technical program;
– be a Canadian Citizen, permanent resident, or person on whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act* and;
– be legally entitled to work according to the relevant provincial / territorial legislation and regulations

A community comes together during the season of giving to help stranded Big Brown Bats

Tis the season of giving and with it, the coming together of a community and partners to save a colony of 46 big brown bats who found themselves without a winter hibernation home.

Early last week, parishioners at the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in Almonte noticed a colony of bats clinging to the outside stone wall of the church. The bats had been humanely evicted in late summer, but they returned too late to find an above 0C, protected place to roost for the winter. The bats were not flying away. They were using up the fat stores and would slowly starve or freeze with the looming colder temperatures.

Genevieve admitting the first 26 bats

The parishioners contacted the Mississippi Mills Field Naturalists, who, in turn, contacted RVWS and the bat specialists at the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF).

On December 8, CWF mounted a rescue effort and managed to save 26 bats and brought them to RVWS. Initial care required a health assessment, and oral and subcutaneous fluid therapy for each individual bat. Their weight ranged from a low of 14 g to a healthy 23 g. Over the course of 24-48 hours we continued to hydrate the bats, and gradually introduced and taught them to feed on non-flying insects, such as mealworms and grubs.  

While the 26 bats in care at RVWS were making a recovery, another rescue effort was underway to save the remaining bats, who were roosting as high up as 50 feet on the stone wall.

Now THAT’s a batmobile!

Thanks to CWF and the Mississippi Mills Volunteer Fire Department, the final 20 bats were rescued and brought to RVWS on December 10. At RVWS, it took two of us over four hours just to assess and give fluid injections to the 20 bats.

We are happy to report that every one of The 46 is doing well. Many are now self-feeding, others still require twice-daily hand feeding and fluid therapy. They are being kept in a warm, humid room in cages of 2-5 bats each, based on gender and weight.

One of The 46, content after feeding

We normally receive about 50 bats each year, nevermind all at once. Together with others admitted, we currently have 56 bats in care and continue to receive calls almost daily.

Once the bats reach a healthy weight, they will be rotated back into hibernation in our bat fridges, where we will monitor their weight and bring them back out of hibernation to feed every few weeks. The bats will be returned to Almonte in the spring, giving them plenty of time to find a new roosting spot.

We estimate The 46’s care to cost about $8,000, including about 160,000 mealworms!  We also had to purchase additional specialty mesh cages and feeding dishes.

5 of The 46 roosting between feedings

We already have many people to thank in addition to the community of Almonte and the rescuers. Thank you to: 

  • our staff and volunteers who stepped up to the plate and helped with this unexpected influx of needy patients
  • Pet Valu Kemptville for the significant supply discount
  • Karin Mahoney, Joyce Ellis and Dino Reptiles for donating the first 30,000 mealworms
  • Bunico Communications Inc. who raised $2,730 to help care for the bats at one of their events

You too can help The 46 and the other animals at RVWS thrive this holiday season!

RVWS Bottle Drive

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is holding its first bottle drive to help support the wildlife in our care. We are accepting empty beer/cooler cans and bottles, wine and liquor bottles, and wine boxes.

You can drop off bottles anytime between now and July 8. Because this event is taking place close to Canada’s 150th Birthday, we hope that the public would be willing to donate any empties from BBQs and parties.

Drop-off locations include:

  • Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, North Gower (please call or email for address)
  • 58 Pigeon Terrance, Ottawa (Hunt Club/McCarthy)
  • 9099 McArton Rd, Almonte (near Carleton Place)
  • 877 Schooner Cres, Gloucester (Riverside South)
  • 571 Aberfoyle Circle, Kanata (Terry Fox/March Rd)
  • 1089 Lena Ave, Manotick

If you have a large delivery, please let us know in advance.

If you have any questions you can call 613-258-9480 or email Every little bit makes a difference. Thank you for helping wildlife in need!

Help Prep for Wildlife Baby Season

Volunteers needed to help clean, organize and repair the rehab centre to prepare for the wildlife baby season. We received our first baby squirrel call on March 17, but luckily reunited the baby with mama. Please join us on March 25-26 from 9:00am to 4:00pm, whether for a few hours or more. BBQ lunch and drinks provided. Sign up here. Thanks for helping our native wildlife!

Comedy for Critters

Join us for what promises to be a night full of laughs at LIVE! on Elgin, February 20. Featuring Canada’s comedy legend, Mike MacDonald, and two other acts, all hosted by Nick Burden. Seats are limited so order early. Address is 220 Elgin St. Doors open at 7:30 pm and the show starts at 8:30 pm. All ticket proceeds and 50/50 draws benefit RVWS and the critters!

Purchase tickets for $20 each through Paypal by clicking on the “Add to Cart” button below. This will bring you to Paypal where you can enter the number of tickets and check out.

Congratulations to…

Steve Beverly, the winning ticket holder of our lottery for two Senators tickets for the game of choice during the 2016-17 season! Thank you everyone for supporting wildlife.

Red Fox Release Video

This adult red fox was brought to RVWS after being hit by a car. She arrived unresponsive and in critical condition, but began to slowly improve after several days of rest and intensive care, which included fluid therapy, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

2016 Wildlife Baby Video

Meet wildlife babies, past and present, progressing from their fragile state when admitted, through to their “teenage” years and release back home to the wild. All thanks to our dedicated donors and team of volunteers.

Bobby the raccoon was shot with a BB gun

Not long ago, a kind citizen rescued a wounded raccoon. When the raccoon arrived at RVWS, it was obvious that he had injuries to his face and had trouble walking. He was dehydrated and too scrawny to survive the winter.

Someone had shot the raccoon with a BB gun. X-rays clearly showed where the shots penetrated his jaw. He also suffered from a fractured jaw and leg.

We quickly got to work, providing medical treatment, easing his pain with anti-inflammatories and treating his infection with antibiotics. With lots of loving care and plenty of rest, “Bobby” is well on his way to recovery.

Vulnerable wildlife like Bobby would not stand a chance this winter without treatment. The winter can take a toll on wildlife’s ability to forage and the frigid temperatures make it even more urgent to help wildlife in distress.

We need your help to save more animals like Bobby and others like him.

Please give a second chance at life to Bobby.

Your gift today will help provide Bobby with the kindness and care, medical support, comfortable surroundings and nutritious food to help him recover and get back home to a life free in the wild.

Donation Matching Campaign Raises $20,000

Baby squirrels

We have wonderful news!
The donation matching campaign was a massive success, thanks to your generosity. $10,000 was donated and all $10,000 was matched by the anonymous donor, for a grand total of $20,000!
That will go a long way towards formula and food, veterinary care, and supplies.

Double Your Donation

Donate by April 20 and your gift will be matched!
Orphaned wildlife babies are already arriving despite the late, cold spring. Your donation this spring can have twice the impact and give wildlife a second chance at life in the wild.

A long-time supporter will generously match charitable donations, dollar for dollar, made to RVWS until April 20, up to a campaign total of $10,000. Your gift of $50 will instantly become $100, $75 becomes $150, $100 becomes $200.

“When I came across a sick defenseless baby animal, I had no idea what to do and was frantic to get help,” says our anonymous donor. “I was so thankful that RVWS was there to help.”

RVWS receives no government funding and relies solely on donations and grants to continue its work. Donations will determine the level of service RVWS can provide to the community and the number of animals that can be saved this year.

This is a fantastic opportunity to double the impact of your gift. Donate before April 20 and your meaningful gift will go twice as far!

Pepe the Striped Skunk

Pepe the Striped Skunk arrived at the sanctuary as an orphan. He also had mange, a skin mite that causes hair loss and lesions, which can lead to infection and other debilitating conditions.

Fortunately, mange is easily treated with repeated doses of medication over the course of 6 weeks. After several months, Pepe had regrown a healthy coat of fur and added a few extra pounds. He was released with two other skunks from his area in late summer 2014.

pepe after

Pepe was released in late summer 2014.

Stop feeding Nepean coyote, group tells Ottawa commuters: Coyote now sees cars as a food source

RVWS volunteers with a sign.

CBC News Posted: Nov 26, 2014 8:56 AM ET

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is warning commuters against feeding a coyote that has settled in Nepean.

“What’s happening with this coyote is that over time it’s been fed by passing cars and so it’s become accustomed to cars and getting food from cars. It sees cars as a food source,” said Heather Badenoch.

She was one of the volunteers who stood near the intersection of West Hunt Club Road and Woodroffe Avenue during rush hour Tuesday afternoon with a sign that read, “Do Not Feed Coyote.”

The City of Ottawa said it’s putting up a digital sign to warn people not to feed the coyote, as well.

The woods behind the nearby Nepean Sportsplex is home to other coyotes that continue to forage for themselves, Badenoch said. But one coyote in particular is frequently spotted by the road, putting him at risk of being hit by a car.

“The hope — and why we’re out here asking people to stop feeding him — is so that he just resumes his normal wild behaviour,” Badenoch said.

Leftovers from a passing car is not the right diet for a coyote either, she said.

“If you can imagine what you’d be willing to throw out your window at the end of your day, it’s not what he needs to survive,” she said.

Experts trying to find, trap possibly sick coyote in Nepean: 5 reports of possible coyote sightings in Nepean since Oct. 31

CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2014 2:13 PM ET

Fox with mange. Mange is highly treatable.

Mange is highly treatable. The fox on the left is shown with mange, and the image on the right is the same fox three weeks into treatment at the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. (Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary)

People in Nepean have spotted what could be a sick coyote exhibiting strange behaviours along Hunt Club Road, and wildlife experts are trying to catch it.

Dan Montag was biking along Hunt Club between Woodroffe Avenue and Merivale Road on Friday afternoon when he saw a coyote in the westbound bike lane.

He biked to the side to avoid hitting the animal, but as he passed it the coyote turned around and nipped at him.

“I could feel the mouth on the leg,” Montag said. “I’ve been bitten by a dog and I know how a dog bite feels that would actually break the skin. This wasn’t the case. I could feel it grasp but the teeth didn’t go in.”

Police couldn’t find the animal after Montag reported the incident.

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, meanwhile, said it’s received five calls about a possible coyote in the area since Friday.

Reports suggest the animal has mange, a canine skin infection that can be easily treated.

“The impact that it has on the animal is that it becomes weak, it doesn’t forage [as well], it can’t hunt [as well], it starts to exhibit different behaviours,” said Heather Badenoch, a volunteer board member with the sanctuary.

“So that’s why the reports are that they’ve seen the animal … during the day and that’s because it’s looking for food.”

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is trying to trap and treat the animal.

Brent Patterson, of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said healthy coyotes are scared of people and generally stay away from them.

There are a few possible explanations for the animal’s behaviour, Patterson added. The animal may have become accustomed to people and may associate them with food from insecure garbage or feeding. It may also be a late-year puppy leaving its territory for the first time.

Patterson said people in the area should store their garbage safely and refrain from feeding wild animals.

Sleepy #busfox wakes up Ottawa twitterverse

By Samantha Wright Allen, Ottawa Sun
Published on: July 23, 2014

Bus Fox

This fox grabbed 40 winks by taking a nap on an empty OC Transpo bus. Courtesy City of Ottawa

A picture of a fox curled in a cosy circle on an OC Transpo bus caused a social media stir Wednesday morning.

OC Transpo said the fox snuck on the bus while it was parked at a garage for regular maintenance.

The cute picture was getting traction on Twitter, with the original post being retweeted more than 1,200 times by Wednesday afternoon, and humorous hashtags such as #WhatDidTheFoxSay cropping up.

Even OC Transpo is using the popular #busfox hashtag, with the quip “Contrary to recent reports, OC Owl remains our mascot.”

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Humane Society said the organization got a call from an OC Transpo employee Sunday morning about the unexpected furry find.

A humane society representative and a nearby police officer boarded the bus to inspect the fox, but the startled animal leaped out the window before they could get a closer look.

The humane society employee was able to corral the fox, and inspect it for any injuries. Seeing none, they released the animal back into the wild — happy as a fox.

All this online action left a lot people in the city with questions about the red-furred local celebrity, said Heather Badenoch of the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

“People have been asking if we think the fox was sick or if it was behaving unusually,” she said. “We don’t think either.

“Foxes go out at night and foxes are fearful of people,” said Badenoch, adding both are true of the #busfox actions. “The most important concept for us to think about is that we as a population have expanded into the fox’s habitat. We’re actually on their territory.”

Badenoch said that from the picture, the ears and fur looked healthy and though foxes can carry rabies, there hasn’t been a case in Ottawa in years.

Another fox-related fear is that a it is a predator of the domestic cat. Not so, she said. Weighing in at about 11 pounds, the fox will only target other animals that are under two pounds.

Fox takes nap on bus

Bus Fox

This fox grabbed 40 winks by taking a nap on an empty OC Transpo bus. Courtesy City of Ottawa

By Doug Hempstead, Ottawa Sun

Let’s call him Presto the fox, and he was a pretty big hit on Twitter Wednesday morning.

Around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, an OC Transpo employee noticed the fox make its way through an open front door of a bus that was parked at the Industrial garage.

After a couple of photos of the sleeping fox were taken, the employee reported his finding and police called the Ottawa Humane Society to come and retrieve the fox.

Once the Humane Society boarded the bus, the fox woke up took off like a fare jumper.

Social media

When the photo of the fox finally hit social media mid-week, it quickly got shared — again, and again — hundreds of times.

Jim Greer, manager of Transit Fleet Maintenance, said these types of incidents are rare. In the past there have been reports of birds, and even a raccoon, that have made their way onto out-of-service buses.

Heather Badenoch, of the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, said foxes are curious little creatures and are usually quite healthy. There hasn’t been a reported case of rabies in foxes for many years.

Adult ones get to be about 11 lbs. and are highly adaptable to urban environments, so it’s not unusual to find them in urban areas.

They are very cat-like in that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Also like a cat, they alternate sleep, play, hunt and are shy and secretive. Because of their size and habits, foxes are not a threat to humans or pets over 2 lbs.

RVWS’s shelter out near North Gower has received three orphans admitted this year so far.

Twitter: @DougHempstead​

Trapped beaver tale has a happy ending, Ottawa Citizen

A beaver ostensibly trapped in a lock chamber of the Rideau Canal at Merrickville had locals fretting about its fate over the Easter weekend. It was finally rescued by local volunteer firefighters.

A beaver ostensibly trapped in a lock chamber of the Rideau Canal at Merrickville had locals fretting about its fate over the Easter weekend. It was finally rescued by local volunteer firefighters.

On a weekend better known for bunnies, this beaver tale had a happy ending.

After hearing reports from customers that a beaver was trapped in a nearby Rideau Canal lock early Saturday, Deanna Whaley went to investigate.

To her dismay, Whaley, who runs Gad’s Hill Place Eating House in Merrickville, found the furry creature padding back and forth in shallow water at the bottom of the lock, trying to find a way out. Continue reading

Pranks a lot! Ottawans jump in on April Fools fun, Ottawa Sun

Ottawa might have the reputation as a boring city, but there was no shortage of pranksters on the prowl on April Fools Day.

Various news agencies staged their own tall tales, all the while sorting through a multitude of hilarious press releases and news tips.

CTV Ottawa announced, on its morning broadcast, the opening of a zoo to help revitalize the Sparks St. Mall. The new Sparks Street Zoo was said to be opening in early May, when wild animals would be brought in to roam the pedestrian street with shoppers.

Mucho Burrito also had a mouthful to announce; the Jim Watson Burrito. According to the company’s website, “After seven years of being the capital of burritos, the Watson Burrito will be relaunching itself this Fall with a controversial red black package makeover.”

One prank spanned almost half the world – originating in Switzerland and travelling to the National Capital region very quickly.

HC Davos, a Swiss hockey team, got Sens fans talking briefly when the team announced on its Facebook page they had signed all-star Ottawa defenceman Erik Karlsson for next season.

An hour later, HC Davos announced Karlsson had ripped up his contract on the flight over after finding out his jersey number, 65, was already taken.

Deputy Mayors Eli El-Chantiry and Steve Desroches sent out a press release proudly announcing the opening of the Deputy Mayor Hall of Distinction. Attached was a photo of the ribbon cutting ceremony with only the two present.

The new “heritage hallway” was to feature portraits of El-Chantiry and Desroches hung in the dingy, narrow halls of the Ottawa City Hall basement. According to the press release, “very short tours” would be available.

The Ottawa Humane Society claimed they were the targets of animal rights activists for their decision to train cats and dogs at the OHS to do light office work such as filing and mail sorting. The initiative, it said, helped the eager pets earn more treats and beef up their resumes.

Not wanting to be outdone, the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary tweeted asking for help from the public for a very important, serious issue.

“It’s a cold Ottawa spring, but turtles in our care are ready for release. Please help them survive by knitting sweaters.” read a poster on their website.

The plea for help featured pictures of three turtles modelling vibrant shell-sweaters in the shape of various animals. Joan Rivers could not be reached for comment regarding whether or not the styles are actually still in season.

Winter woes hurting animals: Experts says migratory birds returning to Ottawa too early, Ottawa

Experts say that while animals that hibernate, like these chipmunks, will simply wait for warmer weather; migratory birds are returning to Ottawa too early due to increased daylight.

Experts say that while animals that hibernate, like these chipmunks, will simply wait for warmer weather; migratory birds are returning to Ottawa too early due to increased daylight.

Let’s hope migratory birds who summer in Ottawa decide to stop at a few outlet malls on their way back.

Biology and ecology expert Adam Oliver Brown said birds who don’t winter in the city, begin returning here based on the hours of daylight, and are at risk of returning too early.

Animals which hibernate are not at risk of waking too early — they simply don’t wake until the warm weather returns.

As a result of an extended hibernation, it appears animals aren’t breeding either.

Heather Badenoch of the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary said they have yet to receive any orphaned animals. For the past three years, their first drop-offs all happened on March 15 — two squirrels and a porcupine.

“It’s complicated,” said the University of Ottawa lecturer, who has lent his expertise to both TVO Kids and The Nature of Things. “There is no one rule, different animals follow different cues.”

Migratory birds are attuned to daylight — something which Carlingwood resident June Laderoute can attest to — the senior says she’s counted 25 robins outside her apartment building over the past month.

“There’s a little patch of lawn where there’s no snow,” she said. “That’s where they are.”

Brown suggests their future is grim.

“There’s nothing people can really do for them,” he said. “Apart from putting grubs out in your backyard.”

He said the late arrival of spring has put several species “out of phase.”

Since there is no warmth, there are no leaves, buds or insects — the birds have no food. It’s an example of why experts worry about climate change and how easily relationships can fall out of synch.

While Brown isn’t an ornithologist, he said there is evidence to suggest migratory birds have the ability to slow their return when the weather isn’t favourable, to doddle or take the scenic route, if you will.

Aside from robins, Brown said there are “dozens” of bird types which are in peril from a too-early return. He said there will be dead birds as a result, though most Ottawans won’t see any unless they’re out in the woods or the Greenbelt.

Ministry of Natural Resources staff, based in Kemptville, said they were unable to answer questions within one day and wouldn’t commit to an interview.

To report a wild small mammal orphaned or in distress contact call the RVWS at 613-258-9480. For birds, call the Wild Bird Care Centre at 613-828-2849.
Twitter: @DougHempstead

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary filling its expansion with critters, Ottawa

After nearly two decades of getting to word out about its mission and services, the small facility in North Gower is routinely over-run with orphaned or injured animals — this year more than ever.

Thanks to a recent expansion, the facility has been able to take in 620 animals so far in 2013, compared to 480 they saw in all of 2012.

More treatment rooms and outdoor enclosures were built this year, thanks to donated construction materials and volunteer labour, and a grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa.

This huge upsurge in animals requiring maintenance, medications and treatment has brought with it a corresponding growing expense. It’s one the non-government-funded group of mainly volunteers is hoping the public can help with.

Currently, the sanctuary is home to several types of turtles, hatchlings and many eggs, squirrels, chipmunks and a usual run of raccoons, groundhogs and skunks.

Staff are sometimes able to harvest eggs from a turtle which has been killed.

The facility is not a zoo, so handling and viewing the animals is only done by staff in order to assure the critters stay wild and stand a chance at survival.

Animals admitted each year at the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

  • 2005: 95
  • 2006: 275
  • 2007: 275
  • 2008: 186
  • 2009: 250
  • 2010: 292
  • 2011: 523
  • 2012: 480
  • 2013: 620 (so far)

Animal lovers can make a donation by calling 613-258-9480, online at or by mailing a cheque to P.O. Box 266, North Gower, ON K0A 2T0.
Twitter: @DougHempstead

Wildlife sanctuary facing financial pressure after expansion: Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary says more injured, orphaned requires more donations, CBC Ottawa

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary says it has admitted a higher-than-normal number of mammals and turtles so far this year. (Photo courtesy of Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary)

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary says it has admitted a higher-than-normal number of mammals and turtles so far this year. (Photo courtesy of Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary)

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary says it’s facing financial pressures because of a high number of orphaned and injured wildlife so far this year.

Video story here.

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary says it has admitted a higher-than-normal number of mammals and turtles so far this year. (Photo courtesy of Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary)

In all of 2012, the sanctuary admitted 480 mammals and turtles. So far this year, more than 620 have been admitted, according to a news release issued Monday.

“And the year’s not over yet,” said board member Heather Badenoch.

The sanctuary attributes the increase to more treatment rooms and outdoor enclosures, which were built this year thanks to donated construction materials and volunteer labour, as well as a grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa.

“We’re seeing an increase in food costs, formula costs, we also need to have more volunteers on site, vet bills have gone up dramatically, we need to keep the lights on, we’re caring for more turtles — their tanks take electricity — so we’re seeing an increase in cost all around,” said Badenoch.

She said she is “thrilled” about the expansion even though it has meant escalating costs.

“We’re entirely confident that people will donate supplies and donate money to keep it going,” said Badenoch.

“We definitely want people to continue to phone us if they have a question about animals, if they find an injured or orphaned animal,” she said.

Many mammals and recuperating turtles will need to spend the winter at the sanctuary before release next spring.

The sanctuary is a registered charity and mainly volunteer-based organization that runs on public donations. It’s the only licensed rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles serving the Ottawa and Rideau valleys.

2013 admission statistics

Press release: Record Number of Orphaned and Injured Animals Wildlife Admitted for Care

Ottawa region’s only rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles appealing for support.

August 26, 2013, Ottawa – The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has admitted more than 620 orphaned and injured wildlife this year, compared to 480 in all of 2012. The growing animals in their care and the second litter for some species are putting a financial strain on the region’s only licensed rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles.

“When people come across a helpless baby animal or a turtle hit by a car, most people can’t just leave them to suffer,” says Coralie Lalonde, one of the sanctuary’s board members. “Most cases we see are caused by interaction with the human environment, not nature,” she adds, “and people desperately look for someone to help these vulnerable creatures and give them a second chance back in the wild.”

Note for editors: Visit the public Dropbox folder for high resolution images of animals in their care: If you already have a Dropbox account, you will login with your own Dropbox user name and password.

The sanctuary attributes the increase in intakes to its expanded capacity to admit more animals. The organization was able to build more treatment rooms and outdoor enclosures this year, thanks to donated construction materials and volunteer labour, and a grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa.

“More animals means higher costs for food, caging, staffing and veterinary care,” says Lalonde. “Squirrels and rabbits are also having late litters this summer, which means we’ll be busy formula feeding and getting these animals ready for life back in the wild well into October,” she adds. Many mammals and recuperating turtles will need to spend the winter at the sanctuary and be released next spring.

Primarily a volunteer-based organization with more than 100 people helping in various roles, the sanctuary receives no government funding. The sanctuary’s capacity to help wildlife is entirely dependent on public donations.

Running the sanctuary for a season includes answering hundreds of calls about injured and orphaned animals, treating animals with professional care and then diligently searching for appropriate release sites when animals are returned to the wild. The sanctuary also provides advice on humanely preventing and resolving issues with wildlife in and around property.

Animal lovers can consider making a donation by phone (613-258-9480) on-line ( or by mailing a cheque to P.O. Box 266, North Gower, ON K0A 2T0.

About the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a registered charity that treats and cares for injured or orphaned wild mammals and turtles until they are healthy enough to be returned to their natural habitats. The Sanctuary is the only licenced rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles serving the Ottawa and Rideau Valleys. We also offer advice on co-existing peacefully with wildlife and humane, cost-effective ways to prevent or solve wildlife situations. The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has cared for nearly 3,000 animals since 2005. Learn more:, @rideauwildlife,

Journalists, to request an interview, please contact:
Heather Badenoch
613-859-8232,, @heatherbadenoch

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Canadian Geographic

After a long Canadian winter, nothing screams spring like longer days, warmer temperatures, melting snow and, for the staff at the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, baby animals – lots of them!

For months the Rideau Valley Animal Sanctuary has been preparing for the influx of animals it will receive this spring and summer. From organizing this year’s volunteers and interns to building new rehabilitation rooms, the sanctuary is finally ready for all that the season may bring.

Based in North Gower, Ontario, the non-profit organization rehabilitates injured, sick and orphaned wild mammals and turtles, releasing them back into their natural habitat once they are well again. The sanctuary is the only licensed rehabilitator of its kind in the Ottawa and Rideau Valley region, taking in about 500 animals annually.

“We mostly rehabilitate small mammals,” says Linda Laurus, manager of the Rideau Valley Animal Sanctuary. “The most common are raccoons and squirrels, but we also get rabbits, turtles, chipmunks, groundhogs, skunks, fox, fawns, mice, weasels, mink and flying squirrels.”

Staff at the sanctuary ask that people call with inquiries about orphaned animals before taking any action — in many cases the animal doesn’t actually need saving at all. When it comes to baby animals, the sanctuary helps people determine over the phone if the animal has indeed been orphaned, and if so, what the next steps should be.

In the best case scenario, baby animals should be reunited with their mother; she knows how to care for them best. For squirrels and other animals, a “unification box” can be created which will help keep the animal safe and will promote a reunion between the animal and its mother.

The number of animals the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary takes in every year depends on the donations it receives. This year, the sanctuary is still $7,000 short of the $100,000 it needs to fund the season.

“The sanctuary is run 100 per cent on donations,” says Heather Badenoch, a board member with the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “We are not government funded, so we rely solely on donations from people who love animals. Every bit is a huge help.”

Signs an animal needs your help

Squirrels A squirrel might need your help if it is cold to the touch, if there are bugs on it, if it is bruised, if it is dehydrated (look for wrinkled skin) or if it is listless or comatose.

Rabbits People often find burrows of baby rabbits and believe that they have been abandoned when they have not — mother rabbits only visit the burrow twice a day, around dusk and dawn. If you suspect a burrow of young rabbits has been abandoned, simply arrange some small twigs over the burrow in a pattern that you will recognize and come back the next day. If the twigs have been disturbed, it likely means that mom has returned to care for her young.

Chipmunk, groundhog or skunk If you find a baby chipmunk, groundhog or skunk, it will almost definitely need rescuing. These animals are kept in an underground burrow where mom keeps close tabs on them. They are not allowed out of the burrow until they are old enough, so finding one alone almost surely means it needs rescuing.

For more wildlife tips or to make a donation, visit or call 613-258-9480. Donations can also be made by sending a cheque to P.O. Box 266, North Gower, Ontario, K0A 2T0.

For wildlife updates and more pictures from the sanctuary visit the Rideau Valley Sanctuary’s Facebook page or connect via Twitter (@rideauwildlife)

Press release: Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary raises $100,000 needed to open for 2012

Region’s only licensed rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles will open May 2

April 26, 2012, Ottawa – The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is stunned and delighted by the outpouring of support resulting in $100,000 in donations. On April 1, the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary had raised only $11,500 of a needed $100,000 and sadly informed volunteers and interns that the sanctuary would not be able to admit injured and orphaned wild mammals and turtles this year.

In the weeks that followed, the response from past and new supporters, all across Canada, has been incredible, including single donations of $23,500 and $10,000.

The need for the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s wild mammal expertise has increased by 447 per cent since first opening in 2005 – that year we admitted 95 sick and orphaned animals and it climbed to 520 animals in 2011.

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will open with limited capacity May 2 and will be prepared for full capacity by (or before) May 15.

About the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a registered charity that treats and cares for injured or orphaned wild mammals and turtles until they are healthy enough to be returned to their natural habitats. The Sanctuary is the only licenced rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles serving the Ottawa and Rideau Valleys. We also offer advice on co-existing peacefully with wildlife and provide humane, cost-effective ways to prevent or solve wildlife conflicts. The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has cared for more than 2,000 animals since 2005.

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Journalists, to request an interview, please contact:
Heather Badenoch, 613-859-8232

Press release: Last-minute donations giving hope to Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Region’s only licensed rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles still facing $35,000 shortfall

April 20, 2012, Ottawa – As of April 1, the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary had raised only $11,500 of a needed $100,000 and sadly realized we would not be able open this year. With heavy hearts we told our interns and volunteers to seek alternate placements.

The need for our wild mammal expertise has increased by 447 per cent since we first opened in 2005 – that year we admitted 95 sick and orphaned animals and it climbed to 520 animals in 2011.

We were stunned and delighted this week to receive $53,500 in donations (including single donations of $23,500 and $10,000), putting us 65 per cent of the way towards being able to open and save more wild mammals and turtles this year.

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary can open if an additional $35,000 is donated by Friday, April 27. We are grateful for donations, which can be made through our website:

About the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a registered charity that treats and cares for injured or orphaned wild mammals and turtles until they are healthy enough to be returned to their natural habitats. The Sanctuary is the only licenced rehabilitator of wild mammals and turtles serving the Ottawa and Rideau Valleys. We also offer advice on co-existing peacefully with wildlife and provide humane, cost-effective ways to prevent or solve wildlife conflicts. The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has cared for more than 2,000 animals since 2005.

– 30 –

Journalists, to request an interview, please contact:
Heather Badenoch, 613-859-8232

Wildlife Sanctuary closes its doors, Ottawa


Lack of funds is forcing the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to shut its doors.

The sanctuary “fell well short of its April 1 fundraising goal,” founder Linda Laurus wrote in an e-mail to volunteers.

“The Board of Directors cannot reasonably expect to raise such significant funding in time to run the volunteer internship program, hire summer staff and sustain animal care costs for the entire 2012 season.”

Wild creatures great and small have benefitted from the warm care of Laurus and her colleagues. With a small army of 100 volunteers, the North Gower facility has helped more than 1,500 animals since it launched in 2005.

A mangy, emaciated fox that now boasts a lustrous coat of red fur has the sanctuary to thank, as does a small squirrel whose lame leg was fixed by a dedicated volunteer’s therapeutic massages.

But all is not lost.

The sanctuary is still looking for volunteers who can help with fundraising and administrative activities so it can hopefully relaunch next year.

And other volunteers who have said they’re willing to foster animals may yet have the chance if more animals appear.

The sanctuary almost folded in 2008 but Sun columnist the late Earl McRae’s 2008 piece about its financial woes undammed a river of donations — $20,000 in cold hard cash as well as dozens of in-kind donations to refurbish an old stable to expand the sanctuary’s capacity.

The sanctuary board will use the rest of the year to try to secure stable sources of funding.

Twitter: @ottawasuntonys

Call of the wild answered in full, By Earl McRae


June 8, 2008

It is just so incredible, a dream come true.” — Linda Laurus

If this was an animated Disney movie, the little animals would be up and dancing all around her farmhouse. The chipmunks holding hands with the squirrels holding hands with the skunks holding hands with the racoons holding hands with the groundhogs holding hands with the foxes holding hands with the weasels, and they’d be hugging, kissing, skipping along the table tops, window ledges, and singing:

“Just when we were thinking / Hope was all gone
You opened your hearts / You got it on.
For us, for mom Linda / For all our tomorrows
No more tears / No more sorrows.”

Linda Laurus, trying hard not to cry, is overwhelmed at the goodness and generosity of all those who, answering the call of the wild, rose to the fore to help save her volunteer-based, non-profit, registered charity Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near North Gower from imminent death. “It has all been so amazing. I don’t know how to thank them.”

The only such operation in the area with a mandate to take in, rehabilitate, and release back into nature little animals, many of them babies, that have been abandoned or orphaned or injured or gone astray, the RVWS under the licenced expert Linda Laurus, who founded it, has been the saviour to hundreds of tiny critters since 2005, the need so successful that Linda, who has been harbouring them in the living quarters of her old farmhouse, has virtually run out of space, but her love for God’s small creatures will not let her deny them.

Heartbreakingly for her, it had reached the point where the unpaid Linda Laurus and her small group of dedicated volunteers would soon have to say no to sheltering the animals, which has always been nutritionally and medically costly for a small charity — one of such noble cause, but, alas, little public awareness that severely crimped its efforts to raise funds. The sanctuary was only weeks away from having to go under.

There was, however, an answer. The old, rundown, unused stable at the back of Laurus’ house. But to convert it into a spacious home for the animals would be expensive, about $35,000, money the RVWS simply didn’t have.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about the sanctuary’s plight — accompanied by photographer Tony Caldwell’s wonderful photos of Linda and her animals — appealing for donations as well as volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, handypersons of any kind, along with donated building supplies to renovate the stable.

The response? More than $20,000 from caring citizens and businesses, donations still coming in. On top of that, volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other trades people. The project under the expert work, and guidance, of two beautiful people in particular who were the first to offer their services: Michael Kruse, a construction manager with Aecon Buildings of Ottawa, and his sister Carol. Working his professional contacts, Kruse has come up with volunteers and donated building materials.

His children, Hailey and Natasha, have gone door-to-door with their red wagon, soliciting funds and needed small items, such as towels.

“Businesses,” says Linda, “have been donating interior doors and frames, new exterior windows, new interior viewing windows, paint, counters. The volunteers are working on sinks, roof insulation, roof repairs, flooring, ceiling tiles, plumbing. Mike and Carol are organizing all of the labour. The support has been incredible.”

So much so that the new home for the little animals, says Linda Laurus, is expected to be ready by the first week of July. The sundry RVWS operational expenses, though, are an ongoing thing, the need for compassionate funding.
If you wish to support the sanctuary of the amazing Linda Laurus, you can do so through its website at and by e-mailing her at or by calling 613-258-9480.

Her mailing address is:
Linda Laurus, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, PO Box 266, North Gower, Ont. KOA 2TO. Donations can also be made through and tax receipts will be given.

Letters to the Editor, Ottawa

Ottawa Sun, May 20, 2008

Re “Distress call goes out,” by Earl McRae (May 18): My heartiest congratulations to Earl McRae. Many is the worthy cause that he has championed over the years; however, none could be worthier than the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

There are so many charities for people, yet only one that is willing to roll up its sleeves and help the little critters who, through no fault of their own, run afoul of human development. They deserve our help not only for their own sake, but also because their presence makes Ottawa the special place that it is.

Animal preservation and well-being is a cause that has always been dear to my heart. In all my dealings with nature, I have never encountered a more conscientious and dedicated person than Linda Laurus. I hope Earl’s plea unleashes the flood of local support she so richly deserves.

Peter C. Joyce
(We’d be surprised if it didn’t)

Distress call goes out: Small animal sanctuary needs cash to convert old stable into shelter, Ottawa

By EARL MCRAE, Ottawa Sun

May 18, 2008

Her name is Linda Laurus and you can call this crisis: The call of the wild.

Linda May 18 2008A call so important, so necessary, and if you care about helping others in genuine need of help, if you have a heart of compassion for small, wild animals that are orphaned, sick, injured; animals that have a right to live, animals that are integral to our ecology, you can rise to the cause, you can save the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary from the threatening death that would be so wrong.

You who might be a carpenter. A plumber. A drywaller. A floorer. A septic system expert. A supplier of lumber and building materials. You who might be willing and able to volunteer your services to the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for free, or at discount, so as to save from abandonment the small, wild animals in the loving custody of Linda Laurus.

You who might simply want to do whatever you can to help. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because, at such moments in life, it’s what we, as members of the human family, should do.

It’s noon when I drive up to the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary near North Gower. The sanctuary is the 135-year-old farmhouse of Linda Laurus, 44, single, with a life-time love of animals and, since 2005, those that are small, of the wild, afflicted, and in need of rehabilitation.

The RVWS is a volunteer-based, non-profit, registered charity, the only one of its mandate in the Ottawa area, and founder Linda Laurus is a licensed, authorized, small animals custodian. She has a small group of unpaid volunteers — caring citizens who share her caring and concern for the animals — along with some veterinary students delighted to help and learn.

Since the RVWS opened, it has taken in hundreds of small, wild animals.

Skunks. Rabbits, Chipmunks. Squirrels. Raccoons. Weasels. Foxes. Groundhogs.Fishers. And others, mostly babies, that without Linda Laurus and her sanctuary where they are rehabilitated and then released back into the wild, would face almost certain death.

When not caring around the clock for the little animals, Linda Laurus tries to find time to work from her farmhouse as an environmental consultant for the government. Her income is not large. If money was her heart for the animals, she’d be a millionaire.

The animals are her priority. And, ironically, the very success of the RVWS is why she is in debt, needing to borrow from the bank, and why the RVWS finds itself clinging to survive, desperate for help from those of you can help, want to help, who care.

The animals, in their cages, are all throughout her house in a noisy organized clutter, taking up almost all the space, with the scurrying Linda and volunteers preparing medications, formulas to be given to small mouths by syringe, food to be gobbled up.

In a cage near the door is a baby groundhog. Next to a cage with two tiny squirrels that could fit in your hand. Down from a cage with five, little, squawking, clambering squirrels from one litter beside several cages with baby raccoons. “At morning feeding time,” says Laurus, “you need ear plugs. There’s ‘I’m hungry’ and ‘I’m really hungry.’ ”

The distressed animals are usually found by ordinary citizens who wrap them in towels or blankets, and, often not knowing of the RVWS, phone the Ottawa Humane Society or veterinarians, who then refer them to the sanctuary.

“The animals can be found anywhere. We’ve had baby squirrels and raccoons found nesting under the hoods of old cars destined for the wreckers. One little squirrel brought in, all his front paws were burned from the hot engine of a car.”

She nods towards a raccoon in a cage. “That’s Miss Muffet. She was found in a garbage bag in a garbage can. She was about six weeks old and in bad shape. She’s now 11 months old and healthy. We’ll be releasing her into a rural drop-off spot this week.” Laurus’ eyes sadden: “Yesterday, a baby squirrel came in close to death, and there was nothing I could do to help it. It succumbed.”

The RVWS, as vital as it is, suffers from a lack of public awareness proportionate to the big registered charities with their professionals, their abilities to suck in the huge charity bucks. Smaller charities, such as the RVWS, get trampled in the stampede of the behemoths. And, as is the case with the RVWS, their government/foundations donor streams are debilitatingly limited, or non-existent. They rely on word-of-mouth and benevolent individuals.

It breaks Linda Laurus’ heart that, increasingly, she is having to say no to taking in animals for lack of space. But there is an answer. The old, abandoned stable back of the farmhouse that can be converted into a shelter.

But the RVWS needs the money it doesn’t have. The estimated renovation cost: $35,000. A start has been made through a few beneficent volunteers, but much more is needed, more expertise.

Are you such a person? Can you offer your skills? Will you step up for the special Linda Laurus, the non-profit charity Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, the small animals, to not let this service of tender mercy die?

Linda, and the RVWS, can be reached by phoning 613-258-9480. You can leave a message, Linda will return your call. You can e-mail: If you wish to donate, you can do so online: You can write: Linda Laurus, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, P.O. Box 266, North Gower, Ont. KOA 2TO.

The call of the wild. The orphaned, the sick, the injured. A mercy call for you.

Press release: Learn to live with coyotes says Ottawa wildlife rehabilitation centre

January 28, 2008 —NORTH GOWER— Although coyotes have been spotted in urban Ottawa, there is no need to panic. It is very understandable that people may be alarmed when what is perceived as an aggressive wild carnivore wanders into an urban setting. Although there may be cases where certain coyotes cause true problems, coyotes are not normally ferocious, dangerous animals. They suffer more from bad publicity than bad tempers. They are naturally fearful of humans and generally do not pose a threat to human safety. By becoming knowledgeable on the ways to prevent coyote conflicts with humans, pets and livestock, we hope to co-exist with these intelligent, adaptable creatures. Since coyotes roaming urban neighborhoods are likely looking for food, make your property inhospitable to all wild animals and stray dogs by locking away your garbage and pet food, and keeping your small pets indoors or on-leash when on walks. If you see a coyote in your back yard, wave your hands, make loud noises or throw objects in their direction to let them know that your property is not friendly territory. Warn your children not to approach any wild animal or unfamiliar pet. Even if you sympathize with the plight of these wild animals, please do not feed or encourage encounters with coyotes. If coyotes become less fearful of humans or pets, other people may see them as nuisance or aggressive animals, which could lead to trapping and their deaths. So please keep your distance and admire them from afar. We want to keep the “wild” in wildlife. Trapping and relocating coyotes is not the answer. Relocating wildlife is rarely effective for any adult species but particularly for coyotes and wolves, where unfamiliar environment, stress and competition with local wildlife can result in their death. Also, removal or eradication of coyotes simply opens up the territory for others to move in and may even increase breeding rates and litter sizes. Through effective education and management techniques, we hope to avoid trapping and removal of coyotes in the Ottawa area. For further information on coyotes, we recommend the following website links:

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further information: Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary Wildlife Hotline: 613-258-9480 The Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a volunteer-based, registered charity (#827317744RR0001) based in North Gower. Founded in April 2005, the Sanctuary’s mission is to rehabilitate injured, sick or orphaned wild mammals and return them to the wild. The Sanctuary also works to raise awareness on peacefully coexisting with our wild neighbours and provides humane solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.