The 4 R’s: Rescue Recovery Rehab Release
Wildlife Habitat a Shared Responsibility
MARS is a charitable organization whose purpose is to:
- Rescue, transport, rehabilitate, and release ill, injured, orphaned or oiled wildlife.
- Educate the general public about wildlife issues through lectures, displays, workshops, reports and publications.
- Contribute to the knowledge and understanding of wildlife by participating in research, and sharing that information with wildlife organizations and the general public through meetings, seminars, conferences, reports, and publications.
- Conserve and protect wildlife and promote the conservation of wildlife habitat.
For the past 25 years, MARS has been mainly run by volunteers on a pretty, forested property near idyllic, rural Merville, British Columbia. Over that time, MARS volunteer caregivers have seen it all, from diseased and emaciated eagles and owls to ducks and swans with broken legs and wings.
It’s never dull at MARS. Every day is unique and exciting. Typically, the centre is a busy hub brimming with patients and wildlife caregivers feeding birds and cleaning cages, while other volunteers rescue, rehab or release wildlife depending on the day and stage of recovery. As you can imagine, much of the day-to-day is far from glamorous, but the work can also be extremely rewarding – particularly when wildlife is returned home.
Caseloads Steadily Rising
Over the past few years, MARS has witnessed an exponential increase in the number of animals and birds that come through our doors. In 2016, volunteers and staff treated more than 800 patients and are expecting to easily surpass that total this year. By far the main reason for our growing caseload is human expansion into traditional wildlife habitats. Simply put, we’re interacting with wild nature far more often than we used to and seeing more patients as a result.
As a founding principle, MARS believes we all have a moral responsibility to help wildlife in distress — particularly wildlife victims whose injuries or illnesses are a direct product of human activities. This responsibility extends to the methods and approach to care we have adopted at MARS.
MARS is not a zoo. The current facility is very much a hospital and the animals and birds are very much patients. As far as possible, they are extended the same courtesies a human patient would receive because privacy, peace and quiet are essential to wildlife recovery. For this reason, we don’t allow the general public access to our patients.
MARS wildlife caregivers also follow strict protocols to ensure the lowest level of human-wildlife interaction possible in order to prevent imprinting or habituation. We want wild nature to stay wild.
MARS Moves to a New Home
In May 2017, MARS moved to a brand new 11-acre home several kilometres from its original location. There is a new Wildlife Hospital and a new Visitors Centre that opened in June 2019. The Visitors Centre is open 4 days a week; Thursday to Sunday and also holiday Mondays. A large flight pen is nearing completion and there is a dedicated space for our ambassador birds which are available for viewing. The recovery cages, animal pens and wetlands are nearing completion. When completed the property will be the fulfillment of a dream.
President MARS Wildlife Rescue
“Why do I volunteer at MARS? To give wildlife a hand and to equalize human impacts. It is a purpose bigger than me.”
Vice-President MARS Wildlife Rescue
“Volunteering at MARS has added purpose to my life and a community of people who share my values. We have a responsibility to conserve wildlife and habitat.”
“I’ve been involved in wildlife rescue for many years, since childhood really. My understanding of wildlife and their importance in a healthy ecosystem has increased exponentially.”