OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah is facing eviction from a building it’s called home for over a decade in just two weeks. The center has found a temporary home, but it is far from being move-in ready.
As the center works to get a handful of building permits, it hopes Ogden City will grant a 180-day extension to its current lease.
“Our community has literally saved us,” the center’s Executive Director DaLyn Marthaler told ABC4 while standing in a room covered in painters’ tape and construction tools.
She said the financial and physical help the community has offered the non-profit over the last few months is the reason they are still able to push forward and work to keep the rehab center alive.
Marthaler said the new facility is not one that will last a long period of time unless they reduce the number of animals they help. On an average year, she said, they help rehabilitate 4,000 animals. However, their former facility, owned by Ogden City, was a big part of how they were able to assist such a large number of animals.
“They’re out there and they’re suffering and there’s nothing we can do about it when we actually could do something about it,” staff member and bird caretaker Jennifer Runsvold stated. She said typically during this time of year the center would be housing upwards of 500 birds. Today, the center is only rehabilitating about 50.
“It’s really heartbreaking for us because we have the means and the know-how to help, and we can’t,” Runsvold said. “Our hands are really tied.”
WRCNU hasn’t been able to take in new animals this summer as they prepare for the move to their temporary home. There are two reasons for this. One, the new facility is far too small to take in all the animals the old facility could house. Two, a move could be detrimental to the health of a bird the center is rehabilitating.
WRCNU has plans to build a forever home. However, being a non-profit, the center doesn’t have enough money to pay for the construction of a new building yet. Not only that, but the construction will take a long time and the center has to secure a temporary facility for the meantime.
“We had to secure a loan and as a nonprofit, that’s terrifying,” Marthaler said.
The new facility is located on Washington Blvd in Ogden. It is a 100-year-old home that has been through different renovations over the years to fit a number of different uses. WRCNU is working on basic renovations but is also working to meet code.
Wildlife rehab centers (especially those that take in birds of prey) have to meet state and federal codes in order to house wildlife that are in need of medical help. While Marthaler is positive they will be able to get everything up to code, she said it won’t be done before their lease is up and the new building is so small that they will only be able to take in 30 percent of the animals they could at the old facility.
The center has two weeks to get out of the current building unless they meet several demands from the city. Right now, Marthaler told ABC4, they are waiting on some building permits to be approved. If they are, the city may grant them the extension they are hoping for at the old facility.
Once the building is ready for WRCNU to move in, the wildlife center plans on running a capital campaign to help them build a forever home. Marthaler said it will likely take five years to raise the funds needed, and they’re looking to raise two to three million dollars.
“I am stressed like I have never been before,” Marthaler stated. “Emotionally, physically, mentally exhausted. We’ve gone as fast as we possibly could go and pushed as hard as we can.”