Probably if you lived in downtown Denver you wouldn’t be able to say, off the tip of your tongue, the name of a wildlife rehabilitation center, nor would you find one within a few short miles from your home. In Lyons, all a person has to say is “Greenwood,” and everyone knows what they are talking about.
Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center started out in 1982 in the Boulder Human Society’s domain, later moving to a veterinarian’s office in Longmont. But both the cities continue to grow abundantly around them. It became clear that the noise, environment and commotion of the city were not benefiting the patients. In the 1990s, they got incorporated with their current name, and a few years later were able to lease some land along Highway 66. It had two modular units, and they built cages for the wildlife. In 2007, with the help of two generous donations, and many small ones, they were able to start building their current state-of-the-art facility, that they are in today.
Located on Ute Highway, just a few short miles from the intersection of Highway 36 and 66, on the east side of Lyons, the Center has taken care of mainly birds brought in by Lyons residents. They do warn people that sometimes the baby birds fall out of their nest, but the mother is nearby, and they should wait, as the parent usually returns and it takes care of the baby. Often it is close to the age where it is trying to spread its wings. It concerns them when people take the infants home. They welcome small to medium size animals, but don’t really have the facilities to deal with larger animals like bobcats.
“We are the largest of its kind in our area, which is north of Pueblo, and south of Wyoming,” said Mysti Tatro, Communications & Marketing Coordinator. “As the only facility providing care for a wide variety of wildlife, Greenwood provides leadership to the wildlife rehabilitation community throughout Colorado and the nation.”
The Center has a small year-round staff. The majority of personnel that are needed to operate the Center are not staff. They have more than 500 volunteers, interns, and seasonal employees who work from March through October. There are often 500 animals in the facility every day. Greenwood currently has 16 rehabilitators licensed by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, and their success rate remains high.
The Center does have an intern training program, and there are currently a couple of openings. People are trained in eight or twelve week programs. It’s helpful if the prospective intern has some background in biology or zoology, but it’s not necessary.
“We even had someone with an interior design degree. She ended up being a rehabilitator! She didn’t have the background in animals, although she also was in the medical field for humans for a while,” said Mysti. “If someone wants to be licensed in wildlife rehab, they will work under a provisional license for a one-year minimum. Interns mostly do animal husbandry during their time, not rehabilitation. Licensed rehabbers always work ‘under’ a veterinarian. When people are new to rehabbing they work alongside a licensed rehabber for a year but all of the licensed rehabbers have to defer to the vet when medicating and things like that, even if they’ve been doing it for 10 years.” To learn more go to Greenwood’s summer internship program.
Since inception, nearly 200 different species have been rehabilitated at Greenwood. The most abundant patients are the many species of birds. They can handle the big racoons, down to the deer mice. Last summer, the Front Range experienced an unusually high number of mice, but that is not the kind that the Center rehabs.
“A bit about Deer Mice… This species of mouse is considered native which is why Colorado Parks and Wildlife would like us to rehabilitate and protect them,” said Mysti. “House mice are a bit different, and identification can be tricky. Our staff can advise a little on humane solutions to removal of these types of animals so that they aren’t subject to snap or glue traps which can be horrific ways to die. We can also help advise on humane solutions to wildlife conflicts.”
“We are supposed to focus on Native Colorado wildlife. This includes squirrels, coyotes, foxes and rabbits,” said Mysti. “Starlings are an invasive species from Europe, but we won’t turn one away.”
A favorite story of Mysti is about the nine ducklings that were escorted into Oskar Blues by their mother.
“Before they got too far into the restaurant, mom was spooked by a customer and tried to fly out a window,” said Mysti. “She injured herself on the window but was able to escape. She left her ducklings behind and never came back for them. They were raised at Greenwood for three months before being released nearby.”
“In 2020 we received 90 wild animals from the Lyons area,” said Mysti. “We haven’t written grants for funds from the Lyons Community Foundation in a few year. But, when we did get the funds, it helped us to not dip into our General Fund when we have extra needs. It is mostly individuals who supplement our income. People will bring an animal in and leave a donation.”
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife distribute to lots of funds to various rehab centers. Greenwood works with them to figure out who needs the funds, but we don’t get any of it,” said Mysti. “We do use social media to share some of our animal rescue stories and to educate people. We have a newsletter on the right side of our web page. We just finished up with a photo contest, and will probably do it three or four more times this year.”
To end this article on Valentine’s Day weekend, we need to pass on information on a cute raccoon Valentine’s Day card that you can send to your Loved Ones: https://www.greenwoodwildlife.org/donate/wildlife-grams/