A Kelowna woman is looking to provide resources and help for injured and orphaned wildlife.
Wildthings Rehabilitation Society founder Sydney Platz is looking to make her vision a reality with the help of landowners Maria and Trent Kitsch. They own the property on O’Reilly Road where the rehabilitation centre would be located.
Kitsch is the founder of Saxx Underwear and co-founder of Kitsch Wines and Doja Cannabis Company, which sold to Canopy Growth in 2018 for approximately $630 million. Platz has worked in veterinarian medicine for the past 10 years and moved to Kelowna in 2014.
“The first thing I did was look for where wildlife we have was,” said Platz. “I grew up being a wildlife volunteer and helping my father, who worked for B.C. Parks, trap bears and do all kinds of wildlife intervention back in my hometown.”
Platz said when she moved here she realized there were no resources for wild animals in Kelowna whatsoever. Through her work at the vet clinic, she gained more experience and skills, took some courses, and volunteered as much time as much as possible at any clinic that took in a wild animal.
“In 2020, when COVID hit, I was off work for a couple of months and it seemed like the time was right and Kelowna desperately needed this type of organization,” added Platz. “The other pillar for us is wildlife education and environmental conservation, helping our community become better stewards of the environment.”
Platz reached out to Maria and Trent Kitsch looking for guidance on her vision.
“They’re such a great family in Kelowna and have a lot of great organizations that they work with,” she said. “So, I reached out mainly to find out if they have any interest in helping me do some volunteering and fundraising. We ended up walking the property together and realized what a cool piece of land it is and that there might be an opportunity to have a center there.”
Platz added the property is perfect for what she wants to accomplish.
“When you look at it from the road you actually can’t see how big it actually is. That was crucial to us because rehabilitated animals in the wild are your best chance for success.”
Platz has been taking notes for the past several years regarding what injured and orphaned animals were being reported in the area.
“We found that it was small birds hitting windows, or robins, ravens, or crows getting injured,” she said. “For small mammals, we would get a lot of calls about raccoons, squirrels, and red marmots.
She said those animals would be the initial focus of Wildthings, but that will be decided by the Ministry of Environment once they apply for wildlife permits. Platz added Wildthings will not be rehabilitating predatory animals, but just animals that are going to have minimal conflict when released back into the wild. Even though their rehabilitation centre is not expected to open until late summer or early fall, Platz said Wildthings is looking for volunteers and taking donations.
“People can apply on our website,” she said. “We’re probably not going to be open for a little bit of time until we get permits and building organized. We’re still planning on helping as many wild animals as we can, but cannot house and rehabilitate them yet. We can still answer questions and help with wildlife conflict where it arises, mainly as a resource for the community.”