Wildlife rescue faces closure as money runs out

| 16/10/2011

(CNS): The only programme in the Cayman Islands that rescues wildlife that has been injured, nursing them back to health and returning them to the wild, is in need of rescue itself in the face of imminent closure. After more than 10 years of service, Cayman Wildlife Rescue, which is a Cayman Islands National Trust programme, will be forced to stop accepting injured animals and birds by the end of this month unless a last minute benefactor can be found. Carla Reid, chair of the Trust said that because of funding cuts, the programme is too expensive for the local Trust to maintain alone. Although Reid has been working to find a resolution, no permanent funding has been found, leaving the future bleak for at risk wildlife.

Over the last year, more than 200 animals were rescued or treated by the CWR volunteers. Unlike pets who return home with their owners to recuperate, wildlife must receive long term care and conditioning before being released back in to the wild. The programme needs consistent and dependable funding to cover veterinary costs.

"The National Trust has limited funding and multiple responsibilities to historic and environmental conservation. Without contributions from either local businesses or government we cannot commit to fund the full cost of this program," Reid said.

Lois Blumenthal, who helped found the all-volunteer program ten years ago, said everyone involved was distraught about the future. “We know what it will mean in terms of animal suffering,” she said. “But the funding has run out for us, and sadly now, for injured wildlife. Our volunteers raise funds to cover some of the costs but the program must have permanent funding. Unless some partnerships are formed and sponsorship found to fund the work, we simply cannot continue."

She said that over the years volunteers involved had been amazing and there had been great community support in many areas, but in the end the lack of funds has been a major stumbling block with the ever-increasing case-load.

“This problem won't go away, because as more development takes place, wildlife comes into contact with vehicles, glass windows, electrical wires and land-clearing during nesting season — all human-caused injuries, which make up the majority of our cases," Blumenthal explained.

Alison Corbett, who has managed the program for the past four years as a volunteer, said that the programme had grown beyond what volunteers alone could accomplish. Over the last year more than 345 calls were made to the hotline, she said, and the majority of those cases needed immediate veterinary attention.

In November last year CWR partnered with St. Matthews Veterinary University (SMU) to create a wildlife internship program, where SMU provided the veterinary care and rehabilitation.

"With the internship we had access to two wildlife specialized vets, along with a team of student volunteers who handled the full-time critical care and rehabilitation,” Corbett said.  “It was under this expert care that we were able to receive more wildlife, handling more critical cases and also at the same timeimprove the release rate of animals back into the wild." 

Corbett revealed how the work had also improved the local knowledge about wildlife medicine and important data had been collected. “It's complex work and it's critical that it continues,” she said. “We have made excellent strides this past year, we had hopes to continue the internship program and grow CWR even further.”

For more information about helping the CWR continue its important work contact Carla Reid or Paul Watler at the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.

Or donate to Cayman Wildlife Rescue

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Category: Science and Nature

Comments (39)

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  1. Ella says:

    I have being a volunteer for the past 3 and half years and it’s a shame to see such a good project going down like that.

    I just want to emphasis that this program was done mostly by VOLUNTEERS alone which they did not get a single penny from it; they did from the love for the animals. I personally spend hundreds of hours over the past 3 ½ years rehabilitating animals and returning they to the wild, I never did that for recognition or money.

    I did for love of animals and there is no rewarding better than treat an animal and see it get well and return to the wild, it’s an amazing feeling.

    I wish some of those comments could focus on the cause and on the benefits that this have to the community instead thinking that is just a way to make money, sad that people think that way!

    We are not going down without a fight, there is a lot of people with good hearts and a lot of good intentions, this is the time for you all step up and help us. The animals will greatly appreciate.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mahatma Ghandi said "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."   Animals are members of this great country too and we would be foolish indeed to forget our moral responsibility to the wildlife of these beautiful islands. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    To Night Grass Hopper.  Shame on you and your racist comments.  Have some pride in our country and environment and stop tarnishing the reputation of Caymanians with stupid, unrelated comments that have no relevance in this article.  Go pay your light bill and stop annoying people.  

    Thank you Ken P and all the other people who have positive and supportivethings to say.  Indeed, if a number of large banks and corperations each gave CI$1000, Cayman Wildlife Rescue would be able to survive another year in all the positive things they do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all the positive supportive emails that have come from followers of wildlife.  Hope with us that somebody will come through with some funding so we can continue our good work.  Keep our Islands wild.  Cayman Wildlife Rescue volunteer.

  5. Anonymous says:


    Questions for Wildlife Rescue

    Of the 345 calls to the Wildlife hotline in the last year, how many resulted in an animal being saved and released back into the wild?

    Was this intern a Caymanian (in any legal sense of the word?)

    Looking forward to the stats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Christ save us from the nasty, bigoted comments of people like 19:16. I could give an answer about certain Caymanians and welfare to animals but he/she would not like it so I will not.

      • Anonymous says:

        How was the comment from 19:16 a bigoted comment? First of all,  there were two questions. The last questions with a statement for clarification purposes. Second, I believe it is good to have Caymanians helping to save THEIR native animals. What is so wrong with that? Non-Caymanian workers are rolled over, return home on their own accord etc. and if a Caymaian is being trained then PERHAPS it will have some long term benefit and consistency. 

        In regards to your comment "I could give an answer about certain Caymanians and welfare to animals …", what are you trying to say?  I F you are trying to say Caymanians are abusive to animals then I would ask you to turn on your TV and see what happens around the world.  Animal abuse/neglect is not unique to Cayman.

        Perhaps you need to rethink who the bigot really is.

    • Lois Blumenthal says:


      This information and more is available on http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky on page 19 of the Trust Annual Report. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would you put a thumb down to this?

      This is an opportunity for CWR to show their success rate. It may also show that they are training young Caymanians to take care of native wildlife. What is wrong with asking these questions?  Why don't you wait to see the answerbefore you stick a thumbs down?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the reason for the thumbs downs is probably more because a lot of readers interpreted the writer as being sarcastic and cynical in his response.  This is a serious matter and requires serious thought, ideas and actions, not to be used by some to raise random issues which have nothing to do with the article or to question the good faith of CWR volunteers, who give their time free of charge and for no gain to themselves, save for knowing they have shown an act of kindness to hurt and distressed animals.  Obviously the majority of readers are also passionate about the welfare of vulnerable animals and so writers need to think before they press the SEND button on these comments, or accept the risk of the "thumbs down".

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians are free to vounteer, but too busy being victims of life

      • Anonymous says:

        "Victims of Life"? You know its people like you, which cause bad relations between Caymanians and non-Caymanians. You are what the Caymanians of yesteryear would call a “poop” stirrer.

        You are a small minded individual and a sad representative for your family and your place or origin. XXX

        The Blumenthal lady said Caymanians were involved as volunteer rescuers. So are you suggesting she is not telling the truth or you are just being nasty? Why are you being so down on Caymanians?   Have you forgotten Paul Watler and Carla Reid, are born Caymanians?  What about the ones at DOE like Mr. McCoy and Gina Ebanks-Petrie?

        Many Caymanians are working two jobs to pay their mortgage and keep their kids in private school. I work a full week and do volunteer work every week as well. I also support and assist family members who have medical issues or are now to elderly to be employed.  And yes… I’m 100% Caymanian. That work ethic and compassion does exist in Cayman.

        You are a nasty piece of work. You are a victim of ignorance and racism.  You need help.  Have you considered seeing someone about your small minded view of Caymanians, especially considering you invested the time to read and comment on this post and most likely live here? 

    • Lois Blumenthal says:

      To synopsize: Of the 345 calls,a direct response (drive to the site) was required in 327 cases and some of these involved multiple animals. Some cases were handled at the scene and 223 animals came in for treatment. Of these, 137 were released back to the wild. This is a 61% success rate which is in line with international standards. (the animals are severly compromised when we receive them and birds are especially susceptible to dying of stress in captivity, so this % is very good.) Assistance, nestling replacement or merciful euthanasias in the field are not counted as "releases" though in a sense they are. We also do not count the animals saved by our pro-active policies (educational materials, signage, press releases and nuisance-solving efforts)  and the thousands of bats saved through our program of relocation to bat houses.  

      I believe there are four Caymanian veterinarians here. None currently are able or willing to do field captures or long-term feeding, rehab and release conditioning – a 60 to 80 hour work week – for $36K. That is why the internship worked. Overseas vets are willing to work for that amount for a year to build their resumes. We have many Caymanian volunteers and they are STARS. 100% of the animals we save are Caymanian. 

  6. insane says:

    Nothing against the government helping the church but….they gave millions of dollars for it. I think they could help a lttle bit with the people that struggle to help out our native species.
    Every little help, helps.

    Correct me if I'm wrong!

  7. The Prophet says:

    Many many years ago the prophet says there were sometime injured animals in the jungle, but there was no wild-life plan set up and they survived.  No disrespect to Ms Reid, but we can do with out this.  It is only another avenue for people to make side money.  No body in this planet does anything for nothing.  Someone is gaining from it, one way or the other.  Close it down, there are more important things to take care of, and if there was not so many people on the Island, then the poor chickens would be able to walk across the road without getting killed.  Now the have to fly across fear of getting licked down or caught peal and eat.

    • peter milburn says:

      sorry that you feel that way as wildlife is very important to this country.

    • Lois Blumenthal says:

      95% of wildlife injuries are caused by human activities – Parrots fly low and collide with traffic, sea birds and turtles are tangled in discarded fishing lines or swallow hooks, songbirds fly into reflective glass windows, hawks and owls descending to catch the rats they prey on strike electrical wires, bats' wings are broken by large ceiling fans in outdoor venues, nestlings fall to the ground when trees are trimmed during nesting season; pet cats and dogs hunt ground-nesting birds and fledglings, owls ingest poisoned rats… this is just a partial list.  CWR addresses all these problems and more – both after-the-fact by caring for the animals and pre-emptively with posters, signs, flyers, advice and deterrents. CWR also assists home-owners with wildlife nuisance problems like bats or owls roosting in roof spaces and woodpeckers damaging foam facades. People own the islands – people fill wetlands and clear forests without regard for breeding seasons. There is less and less space or "jungle" for animals to live in. CWR does not go into the wild and interfere with natural processes – we try to humanely cope with animals the public (including tourists and school children) find and want to help. For more on the program visit http://www.caymanwildliferescue.org; http://www.caymanwildlife.org or read the 2011 National Trust Annual Report on http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky 


      CNS: Lois, can you log in please if you are using your real name.

      • Lois Blumenthal says:

        ok, done. It was really me, as I'm sure was obvious from the content 😉 

    • Anonymous says:

      Some people is just ridiculous, just remember that the all animals have a part on this world, they are here for a reason. Lets help the wild life.

    • Anonymous says:

      And this is why I am so grateful expats come to settle here

      • Anonymous says:

        From your wording a person could take it to mean you were here prior to the expats comming.  From your reply you sound as if you would support animal care.  If my thoughts are correct, wouldn't that make you a caring Caymanian? And could we not logically conclude there are other Caymanians who care about animals?

  8. anonymous says:

        Amazing the money spent in this country and people will let a program like this slip through the cracks.  The volunteers spend countless hours helping injured and orphaned wildlife which are mainly in trouble because of us.  If people would just realize a few hours and/or a few dollars CAN make a difference.  

         We need to get behind the National Trust and it's programs before it's too late.  Make some noise, and let the powers that be know that this is an important cause.  It would be great to see some more corporate sponsership, the business' that do help, deserve a big pat on the back.  

       The unfortunate thing is that animals can't say 'thank you' but trust me, get involved with this program, and the feeling you get when you see an injured animal released back into the wild is more than enough thanks.


    Again, a few dollars and a few hours would really help!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I love animals and have taken stray cats, dogs, various native birds, land turtles etc to the vet’s office.  Sometimes I have paid for them out of my own pocket, when I've had the money, other times I've had to leave them to be put down due to injury.  As for my personal pets I take care of them and they are not a burden to anyone  However, I don't understand why taking care of injured wild/native animals is something the National Trust has to do.  With at least:

    3 vet offices on island,

    The CARE group

    The Humane Society

    And St. Matthews

    someone please tell me why does the National Trust have to do this?  In the US the Humane Society logo is filled with both domestic and wild animals.  Why is it that the Humane Society in Cayman appears to focus on just the introduced cats and dogs and not Cayman's native animals? And what of the vets and this CARE group?  It's a disgrace this has been thrown on the National Trust shoulders when they have larger issues to manage like environmental land and historic sites. 

    Why can the various entities give back to the native animals of these islands?   Please let’s leave the National Trust to deal with important land and traditional buildings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking as a volunteer who has worked with CIHS & CWR:

      I think both CARE and Humane Society have more than enough on their plate and both are not yet in the position to fund another program.  They both have their own challenges meeting their budgets.

      As for the local vets, anyone who knows wildlife will tell you domestic animals housed next to wildlife is no where ideal.  Wildlife needs to be kept in a quiet environment away from predators and the local vets are not trained in wildlife medicine.  Using local vet offices doesn't work for the program, they are not equiped to handle the long term care or volumes.

      Regarding SMU, they have been contributing to the Program for the past few years.  They have been volunteering their faculty member and students to the program, as well as their equipment and facilities at times. 

      I will agree with you that the National Trust may not be the best fit, but they did take ownership of  the program several years ago as it directly impacts the environment and fits within their mission.  We clearly do need more organizations to take ownership of the program, it should have many partners in order for it to be stable.


  10. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing new.  Every program the National Trust has is in need of funding from the the Cayman Wildlife, the Blue Iguana Program and the Mission House. The Govt cut their funding close to 30% over the last two years.  They STILL received less funding than the CNCF, the Gallery, the Museum, Pedro St. James, etc.  Didn't Govt just promise the CNCF CI$500,000 a few days ago for Mind's Eye.  What has Government done for the Trust recently?

    What about the Trust's  Historic Department and their Mission House out in Bodden Town?  Maybe take a minute and read their annual report posted on their website,  their historic department was going from 2 staff  down to 1 staff member.   More people need to support the Trust and help them try to save the important historic places on these islands as well as the animals.

    I'm a Caymanian and a member of the National Trust and I encourage you all to join as members, volunteers and donate when you can.  I do. Lets all lead by example.

    • on course says:

      Lets keep this stream about the topic at hand – There are plenty of programs that deserve funding but Wildlife Rescue is about to disappear unless it finds dependable support year after year. That's what this is about. Donations to the National Trust are used for all their overhead and all their programs. Donations to save Cayman Wildlife Rescue should state clearly which program they are meant for.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Since your point is about things disappearing, perhaps you are unaware so I really should point out Hurricane Ivan made 3 historic National Trust properties DISAPPEAR – 1) Miss Izzie’s Schoolhouse disappeared, 2) Jackson Wall Manor disappeared and 3) Mission House disappeared.  Mission House is the only one to reappear and that was only after a lot of work from a small dedicated group of historic minded people.  By the looks of it, the old Fort George in Town is going to be next vanishing act at the Trust.  I too love our native animals but they are not the only project of the National Trust which requires funding or which is about to disappear.  In America the National Trust is mostly historic preservation, not environmental.  The Americans have a National Parks system for environmental sites and a Fish and Wildlife Service to deal with animals in addition to the Humane Society. 

        The Humane Society, the 3 vets, the St. Matthew's University and the CARE group should be doing their part for the native animals not just cats and dogs.  The Trust has too much responsibilities to take on wild/native animals emergency care on top of everything else.   

        • on course says:

          These are non-sequiturs. What do historic buildings have to do with this? The National Trust here, and on many Caribbean islands has a dual role – and every program has value and should be supported. 

          • Anonymous says:

            Non-sequiturs? Better go back to your dictionary.


            The mission of the National Trust is:

            "to preserve NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS and PLACES of HISTORIC  SIGNIFICANCE  in the Cayman Islands for present and future generations".

            The National Trust logo has the sun, a HOUSE and waves of the ocean.

            If you doubt me, go to http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky and check for yourself.


            These facts tell me, and hopefully other intelligent members of the public, something very important.  It sounds like the National Trust needs to focus on its mission. Leave the wildlife to other more appropriate organizations. In this economy you cannot afford to bite off more than you can chew!

            The volunteers can continue to assist the native wildlife just with a more appropriate organization. I love  the little critter too and I'm happy to see so many people care and put in time. That should never end. Just get the various organizations doing the right thing is the point.  Each has a specific mission and we should not confuse the lines between them.

  11. peter milburn says:

    I have been involved in the Cayman Rescue over the past year and I know what a great job these folks do to help save our wildlife.This is a very important aspect of the Cayman Islands tourism product in that many people travel all over the world just to observe different animals and the way they help to enhance that particular destination.Its like how important is the fishlife to divers.especially the folks who take hundreds of pictures and then shows to their friends so we have a snowball effect.Many countries are now working hard at developing Eco Tourism and that is something we should continue to do here.So keeping our wildlife healthy and vibrant does wonders for our tourism product.and I urge as many people as possible support this vital group of volunteers in their quest to save as many wild animals as possible.

  12. Anonymous says:

    All the crap the government wastes money on and they couldn't do this? They are just salesmen with a pitch to give and nothing else. No brains and no idea about priorities….just saying whatever they can to get votes and keep their jobs.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Church's, Gods creatures and all. Give up a little of all that Government cash and help gods creachers in need! 

    Yeah Right!!! Good Luck!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well – where can we donate????


    CNS: I've added a couple of links to the article.

  15. Anonymous says:

    cayman kind……

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you mean by that exactly? Is Cayman the only place that you think this is happening?


      What does your comment mean?

  16. Ken P says:

    If every resident gave $5 that would be $250,000 in helping to assist this valuable cause which has done remarkable things in saving the lives of so many of our natural wildlife. These are the programs that our government should be better supporting instead of giving money to churches. Maybe Maples, Walkers, Dart, LIME and CNB can make worthy contribution to the Wildlife Rescue. Get the school children to give $1 and I'm sure the PTA's will also be interested in assisting. Come on Cayman please support the Wildlife Rescue for our future generations. 

    • Night Grass hopper says:

      Ken P.  Caymanians need that $5.00 to help pay light bill, we do not have any money to waste on wild life, because every thing was fine before this place became over run with wild life with a passport, so after that the real wild life cannot survive.  Let the foreigners take care of it, they changed or dogs way of life from eating table food to dog food, so deal with it.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a fine example of a homegrown bigot in all its glory. Night Grass Hopper, go get an education and you could clearly earn more than enough to pay the $5.00 you so dearly cherish. Your contribution speaks volumes in regard to your isolationist and racist mentality. You are clearly delusional if you think that this small nation would survive, (as you so elequently put it) without the 'wildlife with a passport'. Those people you so obviously despise have turned this rock into one of theworlds most famous financial and banking institutions and a magnet for people wishing to invest their money and their lives in these beautiful islands. Without which, you wouldn't have the power station to illuminate your miserable little world of envy and hate. Who do you think populated this island in the first place? Yes, the the passport carrying vermin from across the seas. Where do think some of the most famous names and businesses on the island originated, certainly not from a mosquito infested atoll in the Caribbean. Look around you, probally within your own family, what do you see? Yes, Hondurans, Jamaicans, Cubans, Philipinos, Americans, Canadians and the British. All have settled, married and brought up generations of kids on the Cayman Islands, live with it, it's not going away, so you deal with it!! In addition, it's Caymanians who are determining the destiny of their land and thedevelopment of it, whether it is by local builders and developers or government policy. The reasons are clear, personal and vested interest combined with greed and a get rich quick mentality, certainly since Ivan.  It is they who have systematically destroyed some of the most beautiful and wildlife enriched parts of GC. So please NGH, keep your $5.00 and your warped sense of victimisation and buy some books, nobody needs you. 


  17. Clancy Ebanks-Bodden says:

    Oh my! We need to give to cayman wildlife so they can keep saving the beautiful creatures of our islands.

    Hear this! Please donate to them! There are a lot of rich people living in cayman. If you are one of them, please donate some of your riches to this outfit in order to save our animals.

    I will donate to them myself even though i really have no money.

    I fear for the animals if this place closes.

    Oh no!