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Archive for Wednesday, March 4, 1992

WILDCARE GOES PRIVATE AFTER SEVERING KU TIES

March 4, 1992

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The next generation of a local program that rehabilitates injured animals will be a private, all-volunteer and decentralized operation that relies exclusively on donations for survival, organizers said today.

Wildcare, the rehabilitation program, is breaking its ties with Kansas University after 12 years.

Although the relationship won't be severed until July, a new tax-exempt organization, Wildcare Inc., was formed today to prepare for the transition.

Joe Collins, president of Wildcare Inc. and a KU Museum of Natural History zoologist, said budget cuts at KU would prevent the university's Animal Care Unit from contributing to the program in the future.

"When the budget is tight, something has to give," Collins said. "It was just too difficult to support it under the umbrella of the university."

James Bresnahan, director of KU's Animal Care Unit, said the move could be good for Wildcare in the long run.

"IT IS our hope that Wildcare will continue and actually be more successful in its efforts to raise funds if it stands on its own," he said.

Wildcare Inc. will immediately seek donations to finance the operation's $12,000 to $13,000 budget for the final six months of the year. That goal will double in 1993 to account for a full year of programming, Collins said.

He said Wildcare raised about $19,000 last year in donations and in-kind contributions. In addition to rehabilitating animals, Wildcare also conducts public education programs.

Wildcare director Nancy Schwarting, also named executive director of Wildcare Inc., said the program has provided assistance to more than 1,000 wild animals each year.

The number of animals brought to KU's Animal Care Unit in Malott Hall continues to increase annually, she said.

ANIMALS NOW benefiting from Wildcare's rehabilitation program and housed in Malott will be cared for until the transition is completed or until they are rehabilitated, Bresnahan said.

Schwarting said the private program had a good chance of survival.

"We have the advantage of having 12 years of experience at the university," she said.

Schwarting said the program's scope could be altered if plans to increase private donations and expand the program's volunteer network don't succeed.

"The private Wildcare is an attempt to keep the service available," Schwarting said.

Ann Deegan-Chandler, who will coordinate volunteers for Wildcare Inc., said the program already had a strong organizational network and cadre of volunteers.

A new KU student organization, Students for Wildcare, also was being formed to help recruit volunteers and donations, she said.

Schwarting said Wildcare Inc. was hoping to attract more Douglas County residents to the program. If enough committed people could be recruited, she said, services provided by the organization would be decentralized.

The goal would be to have trained volunteers operate small rehabilitation outposts, she said.

KU is attempting to arrange for a lease of university facilities to provide the new organization with a headquarters, Bresnahan said. The program has made use of outdoor facilities at Sunflower Farm west of Lawrence.

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