When Morro Bay is Pacific Wildlife Care First launched in 1984, its leaders have opened their own homes to sick and injured animals to fulfill its San Luis Obispo County wildlife rehabilitation mission.
By 2006, the nonprofit had grown beyond its beginnings and moved into the premises it still rents today: a patchwork of construction trailers behind the Morro Bay Power Stationwhere he welcomes and cares for more than 200 species of wild animals every year.
Today, Pacific Wildlife Care is aiming for another initiative, the most ambitious in its history.
Plans for a brand new wildlife care facility just outside the town of SLO won county permit approvals on September 2. The proposed center, with over 40,000 combined square feet of indoor and outdoor space, would be built on 10 acres of land on Buckley Road.
According to the executive director of Pacific Wildlife Care Christine Johnsonthe project is a tough undertaking, but the organization is excited.
“We are really excited to have a permanent home on a large property,” she said.
Uncertainty around the future of the Morro Bay power station has prompted the nonprofit organization’s relocation plans, Johnson said. The three iconic chimneys are set for demolition and current owner Vistra Energy hopes to establish a battery storage facility there. As tenants, Pacific Wildlife Care knows its time is running out.
“The truth is, we have no choice,” Johnson said. “Vistra communicates clearly. We work closely with them and keep them informed of our plans.”
Although the move may be a necessity, the project has many benefits for Pacific Wildlife Care. A two-story indoor clinic is planned alongside more than 30,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a designated flight area for raptor rehabilitation.
The central location is also an advantage, although Johnson said leaving Morro Bay would be difficult.
“Just because of the diversity of species we deal with, it’s better to be centralized,” Johnson said. “Being in a more centralized location in SLO means people will be able to get animals to our clinics sooner. The first 24 hours are the most critical for an injured animal.”
Johnson said Pacific Wildlife Care will launch a fundraising campaign next year to raise money for the new building. Currently, the organization needs support for its day-to-day operations. These months of April and May broke records in terms of the number of wild animals brought to his clinic.
“The vast majority of animal injuries that we see are the result of human behavior,” Johnson said. “Most of them are animals captured by cats, animals hit by vehicles or losing their habitat due to development. It’s hard to be a wild animal in the world today.”
This year’s phenomenon of widespread disease among pelicans also played a role in the record spring. Although the cause of the sick pelicans has not been definitively determined, it was likely the result of a wind event, Johnson said.
“It was so windy this spring. The young pelicans weren’t experienced enough to hunt in that wind,” she said. “And you can link that to our changing climate.”
The non-profit organization depends almost entirely on donations to operate. Community support will continue to determine his future as he seeks to establish a new home.
“Without us, there would be no place for these animals to get the care they need,” Johnson said. “We’re lucky to have one here, and we have incredible community support. It takes all of that to continue the mission.”
• San Luis Obispo County is a wine industry hotspot for 2022. Recently announced nominations for Passionate about wine magazine‘s Wine Star Awards, which recognize individuals and companies that make outstanding contributions to the world of wine and liquor, include Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek Vineyard for Innovator of the Year and Hope Family Wines for American Winery of the Year. Moreover, the new American SLO Coast Wine Zone is in the running for wine region of the year. Winners will be announced in the magazine’s Best of Year issue and celebrated in January 2023. Δ
Associate Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte contributed. Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.