Dougal is a blind raven, one of the animal educational ambassadors at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

Island wildlife: Animals find home away from home in Errington

Visit the Island centre to see how you can help local wildlife

Wildlife comes to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in many different ways – from a tiny hummingbird in a shoebox to a black bear cub carried in by a Conservation Officer – but no matter how they arrive, it’s people who make it happen – people who care about wildlife.

Those same caring individuals have also made it possible for the world-class centre to grow over the last 30 years, expanding its mission to care for ill, injured or orphaned wildlife, notes Sylvia Campbell, co-founder of NIWRA with husband Robin.

“These animals have made us who we are. Dedicated staff, volunteers and international interns can work around the clock to give these animals the best care possible,” Sylvia says.

Over 750 animals a year come through the Errington site, just outside Parksville. Some may have been hit by a car, others have collided with windows, and still others have been orphaned. Every day, the NIWRA team works to rehabilitate those that can be re-released to the wild and provide a home to those that can’t.

Meet two animal educational ambassadors

While 70 per cent of animals are released, non-releasable animals become ambassadors to educate and inspire the public who visit the centre for self-guided tours and special events.

Animals like Dougal, a smart and inquisitive raven who, because he was blind, was abandoned by the other ravens. Otherwise healthy when he was brought to NIWRA, Dougal was hand-trained and has become a popular animal education ambassador to teach thousands of visitors about Island wildlife.

Dougal was recently joined by wing-mate Casey, a young bald eagle who badly broke his wing falling from his nest. Found on the ground and brought to the centre, staff and volunteers worked hard to save the wing so he’ll maintain his balance, Sylvia says.

‘They depend on us; we depend on you’

The public is critical to the centre’s ability to care for local wildlife.

Did you know that on average, it costs $40 per day to meet the needs of each bear that arrives at the centre – up to 22 in one season. Because NIWRA receives no government funding, they rely entirely on your donations.

Through bequests, animal “adoptions,” direct donations or monthly contributions, individuals have supported both daily animal care and expansion of facilities like the bear rehabilitation enclosure and the eagle flight centre – the largest of its kind in Canada! Donors can also direct where they’d like their funds to go.

“People really appreciate knowing their donations are going to such a wonderful cause, and we have many ways of helping,” Sylvia says. “They depend on us; we depend on you,”

To see first-hand the work undertaken at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, visit from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1240 Leffler Rd., Errington.

Click here to learn about how you can contribute; learn more at or call 250-248-8534.

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Casey is a non-releasable juvenile bald eagle, one of NIWRA’s animal educational ambassadors that educate and inspire people who visit the centre.

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