• Stouffville is preparing to enter a five-year contract with Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge for long-term wildlife rehabilitation services.
  • The agreement will enhance the ongoing efforts of the Town’s Animal Services Officers, who are responsible for addressing local wildlife concerns.
  • A Staff Report set to reach Council tomorrow outlines key provisions typically found in such contracts:
    • Guaranteed space reserved for all sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals within the municipality
    • Over-the-phone support for Animal Services Officers
    • In-person training for Animal Services Officers in wildlife first aid and care
    • On-site treatment of diseases like mange
    • Educational materials and public meetings for residents to help mitigate human-wildlife conflicts

Each year, numerous social media posts from Stouffville residents seek help for wounded, sick, or orphaned animals. Although the Town employs Animal Services Officers who provide initial aid and short-term care, Stouffville lacks the registered facilities needed to provide long-term aid to wildlife in need.

To address this gap, Stouffville is entering a five-year contractual agreement with Pefferlaw’s Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge, the closest facility of its kind. Community members and other York Region municipalities with existing contracts have offered high praise and recommendations for the accredited veterinary hospital.

“Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge is a registered charity and is licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources to treat and rehabilitate injured and orphaned native wildlife with the goal of releasing healthy animals back into their natural habitats,” details the Staff report. “Shades of Hope is licensed to house and provide care for a wide range of native wildlife more comprehensively than many other wildlife rehabilitation centres in Ontario.”

Municipalities with similar contracts, such as Markham, Aurora, Georgina, and East Gwillimbury, have varying procedures to see animals assisted by Shades of Hope. While some prefer residents route service requests through local animal services departments, others are more open to residents collaborating directly with the Refuge. Stouffville’s process will become clearer as the contract is finalized and adopted.

“Shades of Hope welcomes Whitchurch-Stouffville into the growing family of environmentally concerned municipalities who have agreed to partner with us to offer a second chance to injured and orphaned wildlife,” Gail Lenters, Shades of Hope Founder and Board President, told Bullet Point News. “We thank Taylor Unwin of Animal Services, who has diligently worked to educate the public and bring awareness to Council and citizens regarding the impact that urbanization continues to have on our natural environment.”

Lenters explained how Shades of Hope has expanded their facilities to meet growing demand. “Wildlife is injured and displaced daily, from songbirds to owls and chipmunks to beavers,” she added, highlighting service requests they have received from Ontarians as far as Hamilton and Guelph. To meet demand and ensure no animal is turned away, Shades of Hope also collaborates with other refuges and wildlife centres.

Stouffville’s contract will provide Shades of Hope with $8,000 in annual revenues to ensure space is reserved for local needs. However, the non-profit welcomes donations from York Region community members to assist in daily operations and help achieve their goals. Information on donating to Shades of Hope can be found here.

“We encourage everyone to just ‘be aware’ that we are sharing our spaces with an amazing diversity of creatures,” Lenters concluded. “Together, we can save some lives and make a difference!”


*Photographs courtesy of Shades of Hope