South Sound Critter Care to open a public aviary

Jan White, South Sound Critter Care board president, holds a baby raccoon that is being cared for at the shelter. - Eric Mandel, The Reporter
Jan White, South Sound Critter Care board president, holds a baby raccoon that is being cared for at the shelter.
— image credit: Eric Mandel, The Reporter

Jan White demonstrates the current influx of animals at South Sound Critter Care by softly tapping on the table. Her representation of May? Loud fist-sized pounding on the furniture.

“We need help,” said White, board president of the nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center.

The shelter opened in 2009 and has grown to nearing its maximum capacity of about 2,000 animals in a year. Because of recent changes with other local wildlife centers, the shelter is expecting about double the amount of wildlife brought to the center in 2014. The number of animal care cases has risen from 174 at this point in 2013 to 234 thus far in 2014.

White made a proposal in January to the Maple Valley Parks and Recreation Commission about building a state-of-the-art wildlife rehabilitation center on the long unused parcel of city-owned land called “Henry’s Switch” and create a space for animals as big as eagles and bear cubs to regain their health. White said she is willing to lease or buy the land from the city.

The Maple Valley Park and Recreation Department is still deciding on its priorities for the year. Parks and Recreation Director Greg Brown said Henry’s Switch and one other undeveloped property are in the master plan mix, but are not among the priorities. White said the sooner a decision is made, the sooner she can start collecting money from potential donors.

“I’m trying not to be too pushy,” White said. “But I’m not going away.”

As a precursor of sorts to what could be done at the Henry’s Switch location, a bird aviary is in the process of being built just outside South Sound Critter Care, which would be viewable for the public.

White said she plans to fill the aviary with six or seven non-releasable birds, such as hummingbirds and bluejays, that have broken wings or permanent injuries. She plans to surround the area with signs and create pamphlets that would give information about conservation and water quality for scout troops or other visitors.

“It’ll give them a better experience,” White said. “We’re trying to teach them to care about wildlife.”

White said most of the animals being treated are not available for viewing to the public because they are not pets, but animals that are being rehabilitated so that they can be released back into nature. She said if the aviary brings people in and inspires even one person to start recycling then it is all worthwhile.

“It helps tie in youth group community projects,” White said. “It’ll be more interesting.”

The rehab center moved its major fundraiser, the second annual “Wild in Washington,” from Maple Valley to Tukwila, with hopes of drawing in more supporters from around King County. White said her goal is to raise between $10,000-$20,000 this year, after $5,000 last year.



What: Radio host John Curley will be the auctioneer for the South Sound Critter Care’s second annual fundraiser “Wild in Washington."

Where: Tukwila Community Center.

When: 1-4 p.m. on May 4, 2014.

Why: proceeds go towards the care of the animals that come through the center

How much: $10 tickets


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