Troubled Bend wildlife rehab rebrands, works toward reopening

Think Wild aims for quality care, not quantity

Wildlife rehab center works toward reopening

BEND, Ore. - (Update: More commends from veterinarian about facility)

A wildlife rehab center in Bend that closed amid an investigation last year is planning to reopen with a new name, staff, board and focus.

Last summer the High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center was closed after its resident veterinarian got sick, reports were not filed with the state and the wildlife rehabilitation permit was voluntarily given up.  

In February, Think Wild opened as an information resource available to people in Central Oregon who happen upon injured animals.

The nonprofit is in the midst of a rebranding process, hoping to distance itself from the issues that plagued High Desert Rehab Center.

But with a whole new board of directors, Think Wild wants to start fresh to help the animals, said the new board president, Dr. Byron Maas.

"So our goal here is not so much in quantity but quality. If we can do one animal and do it well we only want to do one," the veterinarian said Wednesday.

"If we can do 50 (animals) and actually have the manpower and staff and facility to do that, we would certainly do that, but our goal is that every animal that's going to be at this facility is going to have the goal of being rehabilitated," Maas said.

Maas said Central Oregon doesn't necessarily have more wildlife than other places, but because we have such a high population that's very active, people are coming in contact with lots of wildlife. 

Unlike High Desert Rehab, Think Wild plans on focusing its attention only on native wildlife.

Earlier this week, Deschutes County commissioners denied a wavier for a conditional use permit that costs nearly $7,500.

Maas said Think Wild likely will apply for a discretionary grant also offered by the county.

"It's going to be a community effort," he said. "It's not just going to be a small group of people, in order for this to be a service for the community and be the kind of thing we want to provide for Central Oregon. It's going to need everybody to make it happen." 

If the county's conditional use permit is approved, the 3.9-acre facility, which includes a house and several cages, also will need approval by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If all goes well with the permitting process, Think Wild hopes to start taking in animals by next spring. 

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