By Michelle Poirier

Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge in Pefferlaw continues to rescue animals in need, and, so far, has taken in over 4000 animals this year.

But Gail Lenters, the founder and board president of Shades of Hope, says their facility is swamped, and they’re having a hard time getting enough people to volunteer.

Still, Shades of Hope, one of the the largest wildlife refuges of its kind in Ontario, has accomplished a lot this year, including retrofitting their barn to accommodate birds affected by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

“That involved creating brand new bio-secure quarantine areas in our facility, which we did really fast. We needed to have bio-security for any birds that came in. Any birds that are susceptible to this, which is primarily water birds, had to be quarantined very securely,” she said.

Lenters said their intake numbers are down 5 per cent from last year, possibly due to HPAI and many birds dying in the wild.

Shades of Hope had a total of 7300 animals brought in last year. It currently has around 800 animals in its care.

Shades of Hope also plans to build a fox pen this year, and is working with the Town of Georgina to obtain permits for their planned raptor aviary, which had been delayed and is expected to be completed in 2023.

Volunteers and staff recently released 45 Ring-billed Gulls into Lake Ontario.

After just under 100 baby gulls were brought to them in June, when the birds jumped off the roof of their nesting site on a building in Toronto to get away from the hot tar.

Lenters said the rest of the gulls will be released soon.

Gulls released

Despite a shortage of volunteers, Lenters said the local community continues to support Shades of Hope with donations.

Recently, Scarlett, a 5-year-old girl from Pefferlaw, wanted to raise funds for the wildlife refuge, after getting help rescuing a baby bunny.

With help from her mom, Stephanie Christensen, she started selling handmade crystal bracelets.

“She’s raised nearly $700, well beyond what we thought. She’s worked super hard this summer making the bracelets,” Christensen said.

“What started as a small fundraiser has turned into a huge community thing, and she’s sold all of the 40 bracelets she made.”

Scarlett with cash donation

If you are looking to help, Shades of Hope needs volunteers who are 18 and older who can commit long-term to one shift a week, as the position involves training.

It also has a part-time position open for a mature person who can help answer the phones and deal with stressful calls.

There is also an internship program for students, but unfortunately many students did not show up to complete it this year. So there are still spots available to students interested in applying.

For more information on how to volunteer at Shades of Hope, or to donate, you can visit their website at

“Remember that wildlife matters. Keep your eyes open and call us if you have any concerns or need us,” Lenters said.



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