Mona feels honored that ANIMAL PLANET has recognized her work in wildlife rehabilitation and education and believes the national exposure will benefit wildlife rehabilitators everywhere, by increasing public awareness. ANIMAL PLANET has awarded $10,000.00 to BACK TO THE WILD® to benefit the injured wildlife they are caring for, and has given Mona an all-expense paid trip for two to Hawaii for six nights and seven days!
What the $10,000 furnished
at BACK TO THE WILD®!
|Hawaii trip description|
Mona Rutger with Dorothy Flounders, the BACK TO THE WILD
Due to the supporters of BACK TO THE WILD® and thanks to their votes, Mona Rutger was awarded the "Hero of the Year" recognition from the Animal Planet. This Animal Planet page has the official announcement. This Animal Planet Press Release describes the competition process and announces the selection of Mona as Hero of the Year.
Several area newspapers printed articles about Mona becoming the first Hero of the Year. Check the (new) BACK TO THE WILD® media page to read articles from newspapers in Cleveland, Toledo, Fremont, Bucyrus, and an on-line birder's blog.
Open letter to ANIMAL PLANET from Mona Rutger, 2006 Hero of the Year
How I used ANIMAL PLANET's $10,000.00 Award
to help my Non-profit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center!
BACK TO THE WILD®
WETLAND REHABILITATION PROJECT
BACK TO THE WILD® Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Education Center is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization located in Castalia, Ohio. I am the founder and director of this center and began rescuing injured wildlife in 1990. BACK TO THE WILD® is one of few centers in Ohio, both federally and state licensed, to accept injured and orphaned wildlife for the purpose of rehabilitation and release back into the wild. Throughout each year, over 2,200 wild animals are treated at this center including hawks, owls, eagles, deer, fox, rabbits, squirrels, songbirds, herons, waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians. Every effort is made to return each animal back into its natural habitat. Special Permits allow permanently disabled, non-releasable live hawks and owls to be used as educational tools to help visitors understand the most critical problems facing wildlife today - loss of habitat - and human carelessness with the environment.
BACK TO THE WILD® is also committed to teaching future generations of the great need to "preserve and protect" our natural world. Open to the community, this center presents educational programs to over 53,000 students and members of youth groups and adult organizations each year, where visitors are encouraged to take an active role in becoming responsible caretakers of the earth
Although Rehabilitation Centers are required to operate under strict Federal and State permits, they are entirely non-funded. There are no tax monies or government funds available to assist these centers. Wildlife Rehabilitation requires a great deal of labor and expense in providing specialized diets and housing, medical care and careful release back into the wild. There is no charge for receiving and caring for wildlife brought to the center and rehabilitators throughout the country depend solely on gifts and donations in order to continue this important service to their communities.
There is always an on-going need for specially designed cages to be built for recovering hawks, owls and other species of wildlife. It became apparent that there was a specific need for a center that could accommodate and correctly rehabilitate the increasing numbers of wild animals who depend on wetlands for their natural habitat. Most centers throughout the state are limited to accept only raptors and certain mammals, due to the extensive design and costly construction and operation required to rehabilitate wetland species. It became my goal to build a specialized Wetlands Rehabilitation Facility. Building this type of facility would require a circulated and filtered water system, pumped year-round, along with vegetation that would provide realistic habitat and encourage natural hunting and feeding opportunities during the animal's rehabilitation.
Species of Ohio wildlife that would use this facility would include Bald Eagles, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night Herons and Green Herons, Trumpeter, Tundra and Mute Swans, Belted Kingfishers, Loons, Grebes and various ducks and geese. This wetland's project would also serve as an educational exhibit of live wildlife, helping visitors to better understand the natural world and make informed decisions in appreciating and protecting our natural resources. Children especially have become disconnected from the natural world and have little understanding of how interconnected our lives are to every living thing on earth ~ plant and animal. Students who attend our programs, learn of their role and responsibility in becoming good stewards of the earth and are encouraged to respect, appreciate, preserve and protect our natural world.
A major fund-raising campaign was launched and to our great thrill, several local foundations helped to fund this project. Construction of this new facility began in the summer of 2006. Over $70,000 was raised by donors, but another $20,000 was needed to run underground electric service to the pumps and filters and to build several weathering shelters and a pump house attached to the enclosure. The unexpected $10,000 gift from ANIMAL PLANET came at a perfect time! It completely paid for the cost of building the pump house and three winter shelters for the birds using this new facility!
Our new Wetlands Rehabilitation Facility is up and running and is presently occupied by seven species of wetland birds, with a total of 17 individuals using this facility for rehabilitation (late-February 2007). There are five Great Blue Herons, a Great Egret, a Ruddy Duck, a Canada Goose, an Egyptian Goose, six Wood Ducks and two Mallards. To date, several colleges, high schools and elementary schools have already visited the center and viewed this new wonderful addition to BACK TO THE WILD®!
BACK TO THE WILD® is sincerely grateful to ANIMAL PLANET for recognizing our work and sharing both in understanding and generosity, to help us continue our journey in helping wildlife. We invite all your staff and members to visit and tour BACK TO THE WILD® to see the work being done here and to enjoy the new Wetland's Project you helped to build! ANIMAL PLANET ~ thank you for searching for animal advocates throughout the country and for helping to make others aware of our efforts and our needs, so that we are able to continue our missions! I am truly honored and grateful . . .
Mona Rutger, Director
BACK TO THE WILD®
4504 Bardshar Rd.
P.O. Box 423
Castalia, OH 44824
BACK TO THE WILD®, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation.