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Volunteers need to help where the wild things are

Baby squirrels are one of the first species to arrive at Wildlife Works rehab facility in Youngwood. This baby flying squirrel was successfully treated and released in 2012.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

With spring comes “baby season” for Wildlife Works, a Youngwood nonprofit that treats injured and orphaned wildlings year-round.

The Youngwood facility will soon be admitting orphaned baby squirrels and rabbits, the first young to be seen each spring from Westmoreland and neighboring counties. Babies are seen more frequently from April to October.

Beth Shoaf, senior rehabilitator, said the group recruits and trains volunteers each year to replace any lost through attrition.

It now has about 30 volunteers, but 20 more are needed to help provide daily care for denizens of the rehab hospital. Volunteers prepare food, feed and water “patients,” help with treatments, update charts and inventory, clean cages, and do laundry and dishes.

Since it began in December 1993, Wildlife Works has admitted more than 9,300 wildlings and has successfully treated and released 5,070. In 2012, there were 392 patients, with 212 released. A total of 123 patients were admitted with injuries so severe that they died within the first 24 hours.

Construction will soon begin on a continuous-flight raptor barn for large birds of prey. The shelter treats song birds, small mammals and native reptiles and amphibians. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

Volunteers will be trained on site and will be initially matched with an experienced volunteer. Animal care volunteers must be at least 18 years old. To learn more, call 724-925-6862.

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