By Tina Novotny

With the new intensive care unit now operational, it’s on to the next big project for Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge in Pefferlaw.

The centre is building a raptor aviary, an essential part of treatment for large eagles, hawks, and owls.

“We receive a lot of large birds, many hawks and owls,” says Gail Lenters, the refuge’s founder and board president.

“We have to ship them to other facilities to test their flying ability, and that’s a lot of stress on the birds, moving them. But they need an aviary; otherwise, how do we know they can really fly?”

The fluctuating cost of lumber is impacting the aviary’s construction costs, but the site plan is approved and permitting is underway.

Dr. Cliff Redford, a vet at Shades of Hope, releases a hawk into the wild

Folks in Georgina and the surrounding area know that the Shades of Hope is always one busy place.

The number of orphaned and injured birds and animals they help is astonishing; so far, in 2021, there have been 4,400 rescues admitted. There are some 760 animals and birds currently in care, including the first wave of this year’s orphaned babies readying for release.

There are deer and ducks, owls and opossum, skunks and starlings. And one American Toad.

Lenters received licenses from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Canadian Wildlife Services in 2012 for Shades of Hope to become an official wildlife rescue and a registered charity.

The refuge has helped 25,847 birds and animals between 2013 and 2020. If those numbers seem unrelenting, they are. Does Lenters herself ever lose hope?

“It’s always a rollercoaster; sometimes people do terrible things to animals, but then someone comes in who has done something wonderful, and you know there are a lot of people who care,” says Lenters. “Our purpose never wanes.”

The centre’s mission is to nurture, treat and rehabilitate wildlife to release back to the natural environment. With the loss of habitat, wildlife more frequently comes into contact with highways and other human-made hazards, creating greater numbers of injured and orphaned animals.

They all find a safe haven at Shades of Hope, located at 87 Routley Avenue in Pefferlaw.

Lenters is thrilled that their new intensive care unit is operational, the focus of last year’s fundraising efforts. “It’s got incubators, oxygen and IV rigs and is a quiet place for animals needing surgery,” she says.

Fox treated in new intensive care unit

“Make sure you thank all the local businesses that support us,” says Lenters, who will be reaching out to building centres to help with the aviary.

She’s also grateful to family foundations, monthly memberships and any individual who donates or volunteers. “Absolutely every penny counts.”

To find out how you can help, visit

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