Wildlife care, city officials go on fact-finding trip | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wildlife care, city officials go on fact-finding trip

Susan Wood
Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune Sue Rutherdale, Tom Davis, Kathay Lovell and Tom Millham visit a wildlife facility in Washington.

Ideas on caring for animals can go a long way.

South Lake Tahoe wildlife care and city officials received an up-close-and-personal view of a Tacoma, Wash.-area park last week to get ideas for an expanded facility in the basin.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has outgrown its center on Cherry Hills Drive and has asked for the city’s help in relocating. It needs at least 40 acres to carry out its mission – which focuses on raising, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned and injured wild birds and mammals. Organizers plan to team with the city to bring an eco-tourism component to the operation.

“A primary concern now is finding land,” said LTWC board member Sue Rutherdale, who with co-operator Tom Millham, Councilwoman Kathay Lovell and Mayor Tom Davis visited the Seattle-area park. Lovell and Davis paid for their own travel expenses.

A few potential Tahoe sites for an upgraded wildlife care center have been identified, including an area at the Lake Tahoe Airport.

“It’s done in a natural setting, so the focus takes into account the environment and education of the facility, and that’s the point we have to make. It’s what’s going to separate us from whatever area has Indian gaming,” said Lovell.

Although the Washington park is located off the beaten path near Eatonville – more than an hour’s drive from Seattle – management reports a high annual attendance of more than 200,000 visitors.

The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s fencing methods involved electric grass and hot wires that deter animals from escaping.

“We’ve used this to keep animals out,” Millham said.

More than 170 animals ranging from tigers and snowy owls to grizzly bears and penguins live in the 615-acre American Zoological Association-certified park formed in 1980. There’s also a colony of puffins, a species of bird rarely seen in the wild with the exception of few places.

“We would obviously keep to animals of the High Sierra,” Rutherdale said.

These include bald eagles, raccoons, bobcats, red-tailed hawks, fawns and great horned owls.

The Tahoe contingent was also impressed with the $3.5 million park’s Discovery Center that was established as a learning tool. Visitors are encouraged to touch furs from the various species.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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