Originally founded by Comox Valley resident Mary Jane “Maj” Birch to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, ill or orphaned birds MARS’ legal name is Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) but we are also known as MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre, a variation of our actual name, to reflect the broader mandate associated with our new wildlife facility.
Our Wildlife Centre has maintained federal and provincial permits since 1993 and registered as a provincial society in 1995 to provide professional care for wildlife.
The 4 R’s: Rescue Recovery Rehab Release
Wildlife Habitat a Shared Responsibility
MARS is a charitable organization whose purpose is to:
Rescue, transport, rehabilitate, and release ill, injured, orphaned or oiled wildlife.
Educate the general public about wildlife issues through lectures, displays, workshops, reports and publications.
Contribute to the knowledge and understanding of wildlife by participating in research, and sharing that information with wildlife organizations and the general public through meetings, seminars, conferences, reports, and publications.
Conserve and protect wildlife and promote the conservation of wildlife habitat.
For the past 22 years, MARS has been mainly run by volunteers on a pretty, forested property near idyllic, rural Merville, British Columbia.
Over that time, MARS volunteer caregivers have seen it all, from diseased and emaciated eagles and owls to ducks and swans with broken legs and wings.
Caseloads Steadily Rising
Over the past few years, MARS has witnessed an exponential increase in the number of animals and birds that come through our doors. In 2016, volunteers and staff treated more than 800 patients and are expecting to easily surpass that total this year. By far the main reason for our growing caseload is human expansion into traditional wildlife habitats. Simply put, we’re interacting with wild nature far more often than we used to and seeing more patients as a result.
As a founding principle, MARS believes we all have a moral responsibility to help wildlife in distress — particularly wildlife victims whose injuries or illnesses are a direct product of human activities. This responsibility extends to the methods and approach to care we have adopted at MARS.
MARS is not a zoo. The current facility is very much a hospital and the animals and birds are very much patients. As far as possible, they are extended the same courtesies a human patient would receive because privacy, peace and quiet are essential to wildlife recovery. For this reason, we don’t allow the general public access to our patients.
MARS wildlife caregivers also follow strict protocols to ensure the lowest level of human-wildlife interaction possible in order to prevent imprinting or habituation. We want wild nature to stay wild.
MARS Moves to a New Home
In May 2017, MARS began transitioning to a brand new 11-acre home several kilometres from its original location. The new MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre will have expanded capacity and all the bells and whistles a top-of-the-line rescue facility needs to manage a growing caseload. There is a new wildlife hospital, soon there will also be a visitor/discovery centre, a large bird flight pen, bird aviaries and animal pens, a space for our ambassador birds, a wetlands area and a deer enclosure, and living quarters for MARS staff and volunteers. When completed the centre will be the fulfillment of a dream.
Office: (778) 428-1990 After Hours: (250) 897-2257
P.O. Box 415
Merville, BC V0R 2M0
Diane Weir, Manager of the Visitor Centre
Laurie Ulm, Volunteer Coordinator & Administration
Gylaine Andersen, Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation
Kiersten Shyian, Assistant Manager of Wildlife Rehabilitation
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Warren Warttig, President
Pearl McKenzie, Vice-President
Paul Jackman, Treasurer
Julie Hunt, Secretary
Lynda Hodgkinson John Turner Donna Bennett Darlene Banerd Therisa Lowe