Find a fawn wandering in your yard? See a baby raccoon on your porch? We are a suburban community that was once very rural. We now share our property with the deer, baby birds and flying squirrels who also call it home.

What happens when one of these animals is hurt? For 25 years Wildlife in Crisis, a nonprofit based in Weston, has rescued and cared for thousands of animals providing emergency care, rehabilitation and temporary housing.

Wildlife in Crisis receives more than 20,000 calls a year. Part of its mission is to educate the public about wildlife -- a raccoon wandering about during the day may only be searching for food and not rabid; a fawn on its own is probably not far from its mother. But often it is called upon to rescue an animal in distress and this is where it excels. The animals are cared for and then released back into the wild.

Founded by Dara Reid, who has a degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University, the organization is run by volunteers, many of whom are veterinary students or recent college graduates with degrees in biology.

WIC receives the bulk of its funding from many of the more than 5,000 people each year who bring them injured animals. Their facility in Weston was donated by an anonymous benefactor in 1990.

Even though WIC's permit to rescue and rehabilitate animals is with Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, they receive no money from the state. I am at a loss as to why the state relies on a small nonprofit to help injured animals without providing any funding. WIC provides an important service to the community.

"We have cared for more than 200 species; everything from an alligator to a hybrid wolf," Dara said. "All the animals receive the same care whether it is a pigeon or an endangered species."

She noted that the many of the injuries occur when animals are hit by cars. The WIC sells a great bumper sticker "Give Wildlife a Brake." Dara also sees hundreds of birds each year who are covered with oil from small spills in backyards or from boats.

Orphaned wildlife is a growing problem and WIC rescues and cares for them, which often demands that the staff is on call 24/7 to feed a baby bird or fawn. Animals are raised with their own species and have no more than two human caretakers. All of this is necessary in order to return animals back into the wild. This also means that the animals are not on public display.

"We run a nurture center, not a nature center," noted Dara.

I have seen Wildlife in Crisis in action and have been amazed by the dedication of Dara and her staff and the work they do to nurse animals back to health.

For more information about this wonderful organization, visit its website at www.wildlifeincrisis.org.

New Canaan resident Cathy Kangas is a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. She can be reached at cathy@praibeauty.com.

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