Phoenix wildlife center receives up to 150 injured animals a day during heat, monsoons

Liberty Wildlife sees about 10,000 animals per year but says it’s already treated around 8,000 this year, partly because of how hot it’s been.
Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 9:17 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 30, 2023 at 9:20 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A wildlife rescue in Phoenix is seeing a huge increase in animal drop-offs, according to staff. They say the busiest days are after extreme temperatures or high winds from the monsoon. Liberty Wildlife sees about 10,000 animals per year but says it’s already treated around 8,000 this year, partly because of how hot it’s been.

The animals the nonprofit cares for are all native and well-adapted to heat. “The problem with this year is that that heat has been so high, so many days in a row,” said Laura Hackett, a biologist for the rescue.

They use many methods during the summer months to keep animals cool. “They always have access to water. Some of them have larger pools that they like to get in and take baths. We’re also having our volunteers come in and do extra shifts where they come in at 2:30 and 4:30 and literally walk down the aisles and hose our birds off,” she said.

Still, the relentless heat is causing issues, especially with the swamp coolers. “With the fact that they’re running 12 hours a day and just constantly going, we’re seeing them wear down, break down, circuits are getting blown,” she said.

Hackett says spring and summer are the busiest times of year for the rescue, and she expects the rain and strong dust storms during the monsoon will make it even busier. “Especially with the monsoon storms start coming in, we get winds. So we start seeing them fall onto the ground where of course our pavement is hot,” Hackett said. “We can get upwards of 150 animals brought in just on that day alone.”

Hackett says the facility also works like a hospital for people, with a triage room, intensive care units and orphan care. “We’re depending on the public of Arizona to be our ambulances and find those animals if they’ve gotten into a stressful situation, whether they’ve been knocked to the ground or succumbing to the heat,” she said.

Liberty Wildlife has about 300 volunteers, and Hackett says the increase in workload would be unmanageable without them. Right now, the center limits the type of birds it takes in because of the avian flu. If you encounter an animal needing help, visit their website on Emergency Care.

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