Many patients are at risk at this Hawaii Island hospital

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — At its North Kohala headquarters, the Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for critical species — native birds and bats — that come to the Big Island Animal Hospital either sick or injured.

“You never know what you’re going to get as a patient on a day-to-day basis,” said Linda Elliott, founder and president of HWC, adding that there are 40 animal patients currently in the hospital.

The nonprofit treats its patients for issues ranging from physical injury to poisoning. It could be a Nene goose or a Hawaiian bat that needs help.

HWC’s veterinary team is nursing her back to health.

“We know it’s not normal for them to be in foster care,” Elliott said. “They’re not like our pets who like to be held, petted, or talked to.”

The need to rehabilitate injured animals has skyrocketed. The center also accepts patients from the Midway and Kure atolls.

Elliott said HWC has cared for nearly 3,000 birds and bats since the center opened.

“We treat them and put them back into the wild,” she said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the wildlife center. Its release rate is more than 80%.

“Our happiest moment is when we release them back into the wild and they fly away without looking back. Then we know we did what we had to do to get her out,” Elliott said.

HWC depends on grants and contributions from companies and individuals to continue the important work.

His small workforce receives help from volunteers and veterinarians across the state who assist with medical treatment and transportation.

“We’re always looking for training for new people within our own community, within the state, so that we have the expertise here to protect our native biodiversity,” Elliott said.

The Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for many more native birds and bats than Elliott envisioned when the hospital opened a decade ago. And that need is infinite.

If you find a dead bird or bat that needs medical attention, call the Hawaii Wildlife Center at (808) 884-5000.

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