In St-Étienne-de-Bolton is the Refuge Lobadanaki. This unique place, whose name means “Protecting the Earth”, has been welcoming injured wild animals for the past six years. Good Samaritans and wildlife representatives bring them in for treatment. Equipped with a wildlife permit, the 42-acre centre takes in mammals, turtles and birds, including birds of prey that are then transferred to UQROP (Union québécoise de réhabilitation des oiseaux de proie).
Approximately 500 animals per year pass through the shelter. Once treated, these animals are transferred to a section in the forest to enable them to become wild again and to facilitate their reintegration into their natural environment. This allows the team to verify if their behavior will allow them to return to their normal life. Some animals that cannot be rehabilitated will end their days at the shelter.
The Refuge operates with about 20 volunteers, as well as with trainees in eco-biology and eco volunteers who are fed in exchange for work. Anne-Marie Demers, the owner, dreams of being able to hire one or two employees to help her, but, due to lack of funds, this is not possible for the moment. The shelter operates on cash donations, but also on unsold food from certain food suppliers, including IGA and Avril.
Even Chez Dora, a bakery in Eastman, provides them with leftover meat from their prepared meals and donuts that the boars really enjoy. Veterinarians also come by regularly to see the “residents” to make sure that everything is going well and to treat the more complicated cases. It’s a whole ecosystem that allows this shelter to fulfill its mission. Anne-Marie has many beautiful stories to tell, some of which are very touching, such as a snapping turtle that had been run over by a car and whose shell repair work really allowed it to resume its life. She was seen at the entrance of the centre a year later.
But in addition to the work of rehabilitation, people need to be made aware of attempting to domesticate pretty little fawns or other wild animals by humans. Last year a buck with eight points raised at the refuge, in rutting period, charged Anne-Marie and almost killed her. She could have lost her life. She doesn’t blame him, because it was his natural instinct, but you have to know that as soon as a wild animal is no longer afraid of humans, it can also become a danger at certain times of the year, because it becomes more aggressive. Sometimes the shelter can work small miracles, but it cannot save all the animals in its care.
It is important to remember that wild animals have less and less space to live in, because humans are building everywhere. We must therefore learn to cohabit in harmony with them. Most of them are very resilient, but they need to feed, so before you complain about Fisher cats, remember that one of the biggest predators is the domes- tic cat, which preys on small animals and birds. The house cat is fed at home, while the wild animal has to find its own source of food. Many of the animals that arrive at the shelter have been victims of cat attacks, including the beautiful baby flying squirrel in the photo, who arrived in late May at the age of four weeks.
If you want to learn more about wildlife rehabilitation, Anne-Marie gives guided tours during the summer. They last about an hour and a half and she will tell you the story of her little residents. The cost is $20, for children from 5 to 15 it is $12.50 and free for infants under 5. Places are very limited, so you must reserve in advance at https://www.refugelobadanaki.ca/
If you want to help the shelter financially, you can also donate directly on the site or by sponsoring an animal: https://www.refugelobadanaki.ca/dons