Not surprisingly, scammers don’t respect COVID guidelines. In Atlantic Canada, a man and a woman were going door to door ostensibly to collect funds for the charity Hope for Wildlife, an animal rehabilitation organization that serves Nova Scotia. But Hope for Wildlife doesn’t fundraise that way. Never has. Never will.
Fortunately, as far as Hope for Wildlife founder Hope Swinimer knows, nobody fell for the scam. Rather, more than two dozen of those approached e-mailed, called, or messaged Swinimer on Facebook to alert her to the fraudulent fundraisers.
Swinimer notified the police who recommended that she post a message on the group’s Facebook page to alert supporters to the scam.
Most of Hope for Wildlife’s fundraising initiatives have been thwarted by the pandemic. At the same time, says Swinimer, the organization has had a record-setting year, noting that Hope for Wildlife has grown from rehabilitating 40–50 animals when it started 25 years ago to about 5,500 annually representing about 250 species.
A key pillar of the group’s work is educating the public on interacting with wildlife.
“There are so many things that can be done to help nature,” says Swinimer, noting that one of the best things people can do is to give up the idea of a perfect lawn and instead have shrubs and indigenous trees, flowering plants for the pollinators, plants with berries for the birds. “Keep your property natural and beautiful with lots of places for wildlife to hide and get shelter, and a bit of food, too.”
This is the time of year, she says, that critters are looking for a quiet spot to have babies, making it crucial for cottagers to check for any holes in their structures. Even tiny ones, says Swinimer who’s seen skunks squeeze through a hole as small as six centimetres in diameter.
“Now’s the time to do something about it, not after the animals has already given birth.”
If you do come across an animal that seems to be in distress, it’s best to call your local wildlife rehabilitation centre to get advice before stepping in. A lot of what is actually natural behaviour gets misunderstood by those of us just wanting to help.
And, says Swinimer, don’t donate to anyone going door to door collecting for Hope for Wildlife. Instead, if you want to help, check out the group’s website and either give time, needed items, or cash.