Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Opens its New Facility

One of only two wildlife hospitals in the Commonwealth

Dopey the screech owl, Blossom the opossum and Beaker the skunk, three of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center’s education animals, were on hand to welcome visitors when BRWC recently held an open house to unveil its new 8700 square foot wildlife hospital and rescue and rehabilitation facility in Boyce, Va.  The Center is one of only two wildlife hospitals in Virginia. (The other is the Wildlife Center of Virginia).  The Center was built and opened ahead of schedule.

Jennifer Riley, D.V.M, the Director of Wildlife Services at BRWC was excited to show off the Center, especially the surgery and treatment suite and x-ray room with state-of-the-art equipment. There are also climate-controlled and species specific rooms to separate prey from predators and the Culinary Center for the preparation of the varied diets to meet the nutritional needs of each species. The BRWC facility also has one, of only a few, circular flight cages on the East coast.

The Center is fully permitted by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and four additional state and federal agencies.  The permits also allow the BRWC to exhibit their (non-releasable) education Bald Eagle, “Jefferson,” as well as rehabilitate endangered species and keep non-releasable wildlife for education purposes.  Without specific permits and a large flight cage, BRWC would not be allowed to rehabilitate raptors for release.

The new building includes an educational learning center provided by a generous gift from Ron and Danielle Bradley.  The Ronald M. Bradley Learning Center provides a location for school children, families and other wildlife supporters to come and learn more about native wildlife.

During the recent open house, while guests mingled and went on tours of the facility, raptors (owls, eagles, hawks and a vulture) and a variety of birds fluttered in their cages; several squirrels scurried back and forth in the mammal room while a ground hog poked his head out periodically and flying squirrels jumped around their cage.  A series of aquariums held numerous turtles with various shell injuries. In the reptile room, the snakes (including a rattle snake) all appeared to be tucked away in corners of their cages; while, in another room, bats were all sleeping.

The Center treats approximately 2,000 animals yearly and fields more than 10,000 calls.  Through more than 70 educational programs a year, BRWC reaches more than 7,000 people.

Recently, the Center launched its “Society of Wildlife Guardians”, an annual leadership circle whose members will receive invitations to special presentations, receptions and special events annually.  The BRWC board was quick to point out that they are still in need of funds to complete the building and continue to rehab wildlife. There are various giving levels for joining the Society:  Blue Bird $500; Red Fox $1,000; Bobcat $2,500; Great Horned Owl $5,000 and Bald Eagle at $10,000.  For more information or to help, please visit www.blueridgewildlifectr.org, or call 540-837-9000.