The Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI) will soon enjoy exposure on the national stage when it’s featured on an episode of Land and Sea later this month.
Barry Rothfuss, co-founder and executive director of the AWI facility, said he’s excited about the upcoming show, adding they were contacted by the director of the upcoming show due to the nature of their work with wildlife.
“Land and Sea had contacted us,” he explained, “because they were working on a wildlife program that primarily focuses on animals that people are taking into their homes and trying to care for themselves.”
Rothfuss said the producers chose to do the show because they had heard several stories about the practice taking place in New Brunswick.
“Our message in this particular piece is one where a lot of times good intentions can cause very negative end results, particularly when you’re dealing with wildlife for a number of reasons.”
Rothfuss said they get thousands of calls a year from people trying to care for injured or orphaned wild animals, which, he added usually doesn’t end in a positive result.
“In many instances, and I can document this time and time again, you (unintentionally) torture the animal.”
He said filming for the upcoming episode focused largely on AWI’s bear, bobcat and raccoon residents.
Rothfuss said orphaned animals grow quickly and can become aggressive, but there are additional health implications for the public.
“The bigger issue is the unnecessary exposure to pathogens or disease . . . (which) can lead to some very significant public health and safety concerns.
“When you really think about it, where do all our major diseases come from?”
Rothfuss said they are familiar with handling wildlife safely at the AWI.
He added that students from the local high school were included in the episode, something he felt was important due to the educational aspect of the work they do at AWI.
Christine MacLean, the writer and director of the Land and Sea documentary that features AWI, said they filmed at several locations throughout the province to create the three-part show.
“The theme of the documentary is our evolving relationship with wildlife here in this province and how it’s being changed by things such as the move away from the country to the city, and things such as urban sprawl, the spread of cities along our secondary highways into wildlife habitat.”
Because of these circumstances, she said, and the fact that the wildlife population is growing, people seem to be intersecting with animals more in the province.
“In this half hour show, what I try to do is raise questions about what is a good way to interact with wildlife and reflect on some of the ways that we do interact with wildlife.”
She said the story of Ellie the moose, who was taken in by the Ruff family in Giberson Settlement sparked her interest. The moose was taken in by the family when it was believed the animal was abandoned.
In addition to moose, the show also looks at bears and raccoons, she said.
The Land and Sea episode featuring AWI will air on March 17 and can be viewed online afterwards.
About the Atlantic Wildlife Institute
The Atlantic Wildlife Institute encourages learning about the vital relationship between people and nature. The focus is on hands-on learning and research, rooted in a program of rescue, rehabilitation and release of displaced wildlife.