As you drive past the Jeju Medical Center along the 5.16 road, on your left you will see the Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center. This rescue center was established in October 2010, supported by the Jeju City Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.
The main purpose of the Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center is to literally rescue wild animals that are at risk of injury or death.
Over the past two years the number of reports of animals in need of help has increased. In 2010 the center received 399 cases of injured or abandoned wild animals. In 2011 there were 567. This year, the center expects to receive over 600 animals.
▲ At the Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center roughly 70 percent of their cases are birds injured by flying into window panes. The rapid spread of newly constructed buildings in their natural habitats is the primary cause. The rescue center cares for the animals with treatment, rehabilitation, and when healthy, they are released back into the wild. Photography by Douglas MacDonald(Flickr.com/photos/dmacs_photos)
“According to the statistics we have made for the past two years, 70 percent of the reported wildlife [that are brought to the center] were birds and the rest were mammals, mostly deer,” said Dr. Yun Young Min, director of the Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center and a professor at the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Jeju National University.
“Reports [of injured and sick animals] have been increasing since the center first opened and the number is expected to rise as more people are becoming aware of our facility,” said Dr. Yun.
According to Dr. Yun, along with the public becoming aware of the center and its services, they are receiving more animals that have been injured due to construction in their habitats. This is particularly affecting birds who become disorientated and fly into the windows of newly erected buildings.
“Most birds come into the facility with fractured wings or bones from flying into buildings, cars, or electric poles,” said Dr. Yun. “They are also brought to the center for symptoms from infections or parasites in their bodies.”
Reports are made from all over Jeju and once processed, the rescue crew heads out to the indicated site to bring the reported wildlife to the center. The animal is then examined by the staff’s veterinarians, followed by treatment according to its symptoms or injuries.
After treatment, the animals are placed in a recovery room where they are fed and cared for until assistance is no longer needed. Once healthier, wild animals are then taken to habitat areas located outside the building where they rehabilitate. As soon as their rehabilitation is complete, animals are released into their natural habitats.
▲ Dr. Yun Young Min, far right, and assistants at the Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center.Photo by Douglas MacDonald
The facility is equipped with an examination room, operating and treatment rooms, two recovery rooms (one for mammals and one for birds birds with sectioned cages), an education room, an office area, and a research area. Outside the building are three large rehab areas: one for mammals, another for large birds, and another for aquatic birds.
If you come across a wild animal that has clearly been injured, Dr. Yun advises to keep your distance and report the animal to the facility as soon as possible. In the case of an injured bird, however, cautiously cover its eyes with a blanket and if possible place it in a box until the rescue crew arrives.
“Covering the eyes of the bird will minimize their stress level,” said Dr. Yun.
Although, in most reported cases where wild animals are in need of help, some are brought to the center with misled information.
“During summer, especially between May and June, is when wildlife babies are born. Some people discover the babies wandering in the wild alone and mistakenly report us for a rescue. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that there is a high chance that they are not alone but the parents are nearby. Unless you have confirmed that the parents have died or are injured, it is best to leave them alone,” Yun advised.
To help prevent these unnecessary reports and the subsequent labour spent investigating, the center holds several educational events during the summer to raise awareness of Jeju’s wildlife habitats.
Also, not all wild animals are subjects for care and rehabilitation. Species like black crows, the Korean magpie, and wild hogs are designated as harmful to the island’s ecosystem and are euthanized when brought to the center.
The Jeju Wildlife Rescue Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you come across an injured animal in the wild, please be sure to call 064-752-9982 or 010-4313-9982.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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