Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge settles into new digs

August 27, 2010

Barred owls at ECWR. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

4,000 sq. ft. facility boasts room for growth

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR) has been rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in the Florida Panhandle for more than 15 years. Caring for a variety of wildlife found sick, injured or abandoned, ECWR has taken in everything from an injured osprey to orphaned beavers to abandoned exotic pets.

ECWR recently relocated to Santa Rosa Blvd. on Okaloosa Island from its formerly cramped quarters in Destin. The new 4,000 sq. ft. facility is four times the size of their previous location. The staff has also been increased now that the facility has growing room.

“We brought in more than 57 raccoons this year alone,” assistant director Patrick Gault, said.

ECWR has 17 ambassador animals and birds that are permanent residents at the facility. The ambassadors are wildlife that, for various health reasons, can no longer be reintroduced into the wild. These ambassadors serve as educational diplomats during educational presentations ECWR offers to the public.

Fawn at ECWR. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

This year, ECWR won a NOAA Prescott grant giving the facility $78,000 for needed supplies and staff for marine mammal rescue. The John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, or Prescott Grant Program, provides grants or marine mammal rescue and study. With the new location right on Santa Rosa Sound ECWR now has the ability to handle sea turtle and mammal rescues more effectively; and now has dolphin-stranding coordinator Steve Shippee on board.

Funded entirely by private funds and grants, ECWR is constantly in need of contributions. For more information on how you can help, go to http://www.ecwildliferefuge.com

The ECWR is located on Okaloosa Island at 105 Santa Rosa Blvd., Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. To contact ECWR, call (850) 650-1880.

    1. Congratulations in many ways. With luck I hope to visit briefly on September 20.

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