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Wildlife rescue group a lifesaver for songbirds

An owl, turkey vulture, king snake and gray fox were the guests of honor at the annual open house for Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. in Anderson River Park Saturday morning. The animals on display, however, were all more or less domesticated as they would not survive long in the wild.

The 20-year-old California Kingsnake has cataracts and receives home-care from experienced volunteer and reptile enthusiast, Tami Phelps. Phelps said she was also qualified to care for the native pond turtles that the organization receives. Later that evening, Phelps said she would release a turtle that a dog mauled. It's shell was broken and muscles were visible, she said.

The turkey vulture perched on the back of a bench at the open house has spent nearly seven years in the home of Patty and Robin Ahlf.

"He's one of the family now," Robin Ahlf said, adding that the vulture is very demanding of attention.

"(Vultures) don't do well alone," Patty Ahlf said. "He was self-mutilating when we found him because he was alone."

Unlike the educational animals in home care, most of the sick, injured and orphaned wildlife are released back into the wild. And business at the center is just about to pick up.

"April through September is baby bird season," Janet Story, volunteer coordinator said. "They fall out of nests, we take them in and raise them up."

Last year the center took in 1,191 animals, mostly baby birds. The center is equipped with with an aviary for large birds to learn how to fly and hunt prey before being released into the wild.

Even with 60 volunteers working 4 hours per week to man the center, Story said more volunteers are needed.

Those interested in volunteering at the center may call 347-1747 for more information.

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