Hamburg Grange goes wild at Red Creek Wildlife Center

Item photo by Shea Singley These two turtles are domestic invasives that were dropped off at parks and now help keep the grass to a good height at the rehab center.
Item photo by Shea Singley Peggy Hentz of Red Creek Wildlife speaks to the Hamburg Grange with a little help from her friend.

Hamburg Grange members had the opportunity to embrace their wild sides as the organization visited Red Creek Wildlife Center in Schuylkill County on July 12.

Greeted by Peggy Hentz, the group was given a brief background on the center and then taken on a tour along the walking trail that the center set up just for that type of instance. Because the center is not allowed to show its rehabilitation animals, they created a short walking trail to allow visitors to see a few of the animals that stay at the center.

We do about 2,000 [rescues and rehabilitations] a year, explained Hentz who has three full-time staff, a couple of part-time staff and about 25 volunteers. The reason why we do what we do is to prevent this.

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Hentz pointed to a duck on the property that ventured over to the group of grange members. She explained that the duck was recently dropped off at the pond on the property, but was hand raised unlawfully by itself without any other ducks.

It doesnt realize its a duck, she explained. It thinks its a person and its gonna follow us on the tour.

And follow it did as well as make a few friends by going after toes and shoes throughout the walk.

Along the tour which featured birds of prey, ducks, geese, swans and turtles, were enclosures made from sheds that those at the center modified to fit their needs.

We took in about 505 baby animals in June alone, said Hentz while grange members looked in the enclosures at broad wing hawks, a turkey vulture and more.

The property that includes the clinic (where they receive the animals) and the walking trail was bought about two years ago. Hentz and the center had been looking to expand as early as 2007 and were beginning to get frustrated at the closed doors.

We needed so badly to expand. Two years ago, this property went up for sale. What more perfect place could we have right across the street from where we were? Hentz said.

The property across the street is still used with many of the currently rehabbing animals taking up temporary residency and the meeting room where the grange later held a brief meeting.

When asked about how she learned to run such a center, Hentz explained that it was hands on learning, reading and working with other rehabilitators as well as going to conferences. She now writes the tests and teaches her own courses on wildlife rehabilitation.

With only about 30 wildlife rehabilitations in Pennsylvania, and many of those having their own rules on what they will take in and what they will not, Red Creek covers a large area with the following counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Chester, Montgomery, Lancaster, Lebanon, Schuylkill, all the way up to Luzerne and down to Dauphin, and York.

All of the funding for Red Creek and other wildlife rehabilitation centers is based on private donations as Hentz explained that there is no current government assistance for wildlife rehabilitation.

It is the town of Hamburg, she said. We wouldnt be here if it wasnt for some of your citizens.

The center relies on donations as well as volunteers and even Eagle Scouts looking to do projects as the benches around the pond were part of such a project.

Coming up for the center is an open house set for Aug. 16 that will feature games for children, food, a representative from DCNR with rattlesnakes, a fortune teller that will tell fortunes based on the readees spirit animal and more.

Recently, at its May 10 meeting, the Hamburg Grange donated $1,000 to Red Creek Wildlife Center from the money raised at the Feb. 22 pot pie dinner.

For more information on Red Creek Wildlife, visit http://redcreekwildlifecenter.com/.

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About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.