A child’s wild zoo under the bed

DaLyn with Chitters

DaLyn with Chitters

Growing up on a farm, DaLyn Erickson-Marthaler started her wildlife career at a very early age.   As a small child, she kept her wildlife patients under the bed — injured and orphaned bunnies, snakes, mice, and frogs. Her grandpa helped her and together they looked up information related to their care. One day her mother, who believed that “animals do not belong in the house” found her zoo under the bed and screamed in horror.

Undeterred, DaLyn kept on rescuing animals.  One day, in a mom and pop pet store, she watched a child playing roughly with a parakeet; she said to the pet shop attendant, “I wanna buy that one.” She took him home and was fascinated by the task of learning all about him.   People began to drop off parrots for her to care for. She began to rescue and rehome birds. Some stayed with her, and this led eventually to breeding them. She was breeding lorries and cockatoos and had ten breeding pairs. It seemed like the natural thing to do, and in those days, there was no general awareness that breeding birds could lead to homeless birds.

After doing this for 15 years, she came upon a notice that the Nature Center of Ogden had a position open for rehabilitating raptors. Freeing birds to return to the wild would be a beautiful thing to do.   DaLyn got the position. It was a little bit harder than it had seemed, and DaLyn found herself learning the complex ins and outs of wildlife rehabilitation, while at the same time having to raise funds to support the program.   In 2009, the Nature Center of Ogden decided that they would no longer do wildlife rehabilitation.   This meant that DaLyn had six months to get non-profit status, get her own state and federal rehabilitation permits, and get a facility – which was going to require a miracle, but it never occurred to her not to pursue this. Abandoning the wild birds who needed her care was not an option that she ever considered.

Today, with a spacious 10,000 square foot facility, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, takes in 2,000 orphaned and injured wild birds a year – hummingbirds, shorebirds, hawks and eagles, all avian species, and also mammals –squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, marmots, and others.   What began as a childhood obsession, hiding her “wild zoo” under the bed, has led to the most active wildlife rehabilitation center in Utah.

Photo: Dick Daniels / Wikipedia Commons /This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / A California Gull.    

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