Animal care centers survive

One by one, the volunteer gives worms to peck to a young house sparrow collected at the LPO Center in Ile Grande, Brittany, dedicated to caring for wildlife. Centers whose activity is still sensitive. A young woman feeds a chicken locked in a cage with tweezers that squeal and open a hungry beak. In the nearby cages are housed great tits, thrushes, jackdaws, a frightened barn owl. Hedgehogs eat porridge before returning to cat crates. A seagull with a wound on one leg watches the visitor intently, while outside his comrades regain strength in the aviary. Indoor pools ensure that oiled birds return the waterproofing before release. This seaside League of Birds (LPO) center specializes in rescuing seabirds, but also accepts small mammals. Herring gulls, pigeons and hedgehogs are the most common, says Elise Bidaud, responsible for the care center.

Volunteer from the LPO center in Pleumeur-Bodou (Côtes d’Armor) takes care of the duck, June 8, 2021. Screen: AFP / Archive – LOIC VENANCE

The purpose of this structure: to treat wild animals before releasing them into the wild when they are able to survive there. “Animals come to this center because people at one point affected their lives: young people who fell out of the nest and brought to the center rightly or wrongly, collisions with windows or cars, predatory cats … We also have oiled birds every year“, explains Elise Bidaud.”Today, the French are undoubtedly aware“, rejoices Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of LPO. But they don’t always have the right reflexes: a young bird that has fallen from a nest has to be brought back or set in height, parents will take care of that if people have touched it. abandoned, awaiting the return of their mother.

Insecure care centers

The Ile Grande Center operates with one and a half employees, civil services and dozens of volunteers, for more than a thousand animals collected each year. “There is a question of the survival of these structures“some of which close regularly,” explains Jean-François Courreau, president of the Network of Wildlife Conservation Centers, which brings together 22 of the 100 in France. “Our economic model is worn out, basically based on the generosity of the public and patrons“Not to mention the increase in activity in recent years. To deal with this, the Network is seeking the support of public authorities. They have been partially heard. Secretary of State for Biodiversity Bérangère Abba has promised exceptional aid of 5,000 euros per center and”a more structured and sustainable financing model“.”For micro centers, that’s a lot“, welcomes Jean-François Courreau.

Meal for children's birds at the LPO center in Pleumeur-Bodou, June 2021 (AFP / Archive - LOIC VENANCE)

Meal for children’s birds at the LPO center in Pleumeur-Bodou, June 2021. Credits: AFP / Archive – LOIC VENANCE

Patrice Chollet, head of the Friends of Hedgehogs Poitiers Court, is one of those structures that relies on the commitment of one or two people. On “dedicates two months of teacher’s salary to running the center“This enthusiast regrets.”a big hole in vet training“some of whom don’t care about wildlife”for financial reasons or in the absence of training“He believes.”Compared to other countries, we are very late“, recognizes Pascal Arné, head of the wildlife protection center that depends on the Maison-Alfort veterinary school, in the Paris region. But things are changing, he assures, with the growing interest of the veterinarians being trained.”A veterinarian can deal with many situations, wounds, fractures, especially in mammalsHe says he can do the initial care, but he must not keep wild animals that end up in care centers.

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