MADISON (WKOW) -- The Dane County Humane Society says animals are starting to outgrow the space in its wildlife rehabilitation center.
The program that gets sick or orphaned animals ready for their return to the wild has seen almost twice as many animals this year than it did last year.
"The area we're currently using—we're packed. We need to start thinking about, can we build a new building?" says Gayle Viney, DCHS spokeswoman.
"This is one of our biggest expenses in the summer is the formula for all the babies," Brooke Lewis says as she feeds squirrels the formula through the cage.
Lewis is the wildlife rehabilitation coordinator at DCHS' Four Lakes Wildlife Center.
From baby squirrels to large hawks, the wildlife program has been helping animals get back on their feet... and their wings... since 2002.
But the need keeps growing.
"We are in our biggest flight pen right now," Lewis says as she enters the pen. "It's 50 feet [long]. We've been working hard to build 100 feet because some species require a bigger space."
She says the center has cared for close to 3,000 animals this year compared with about 1,800 last year.
Lewis and Viney attribute the rise to increased public awareness about the program and increased urban development.
The length of the stay varies for each animal. It can be anywhere from three weeks for bunnies to three months for some of the larger birds.
Lewis says if you see an animal that might be in need, call the center at (608) 838-0413 ext. 151 for instructions.
About ten percent of animals they get actually should have been left in the wild.
"Often what we see that we don't need to are baby animals, frequently baby bunnies. People come across the nest and the history of bunnies is [the mom] only comes around dawn and dusk. If there are people around, she's not going to come," Lewis says.
DCHS is not open 24 hours a day, so if you find an animal during its off hours you can take it to Exceptional Care for Animals. They will be transported to DCHS' Four Lakes Wildlife Center the next day.
Click here to see a calendar of DCHS events, including fundraisers that will benefit Four Lakes Wildlife Center. You can also help by volunteering, particularly in the summer when the wildlife center sees increases in wild animals.