4 for ’14 | Where to now, West Sound Wildlife Shelter?

     - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

The West Sound Wildlife Shelter is moving.

That much is certain.

Where the beloved island institution will go, remains to be seen.

The shelter announced the intended relocation in June, citing the impending expiration of their property lease with the nearby Bloedel Reserve. The official lease expiration date is Dec. 31, 2016 and although it was originally announced that Bloedel would grant a five-year extension to give the shelter adequate time to relocate, West Sound Wildlife executive director Lisa Horn said that she and her staff are not wasting any time in preparing for the move.

“We have a lease until the end of 2016,” she said. “We have a letter of intent from the Bloedel board that they intend to give us a lease extension with modifications to the footprint of the property, to meet what they need to do with their plans. We won’t have that until next summer when their board meets. So, right now we are operating under the fact that we have a lease until the end of 2016.”

Though the actual new location of the shelter has yet to be decided, Horn said several viable options were currently being discussed.

“We are seeing it as an opportunity to move forward and grow,” she said. “We just took in our 1,100th patient for the year. We’re just getting in more and more animals, so we need to be able to satisfy that growth as well,” she said.

Horn went on to say that in a new larger space there were plans to incorporate an interactive education center for visitors, something that the current footprint of their facility does not permit.

“The ultimate goal is to find an affordable piece of property that meets all of our requirements,” Horn said. “We are nearing the end of an exploratory phase. We have identified several pieces of property, and we now have to look at them to determine if they are feasible for what we need.”

The established facilities at the shelter, including the 3,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art flight cage and custom water fowl enclosure are moveable, but “at a very hefty price,” Horn said.

Shelter officials are in discussions with several potential contractors about the relocation.

It’s a unique undertaking, and not something that the average moving team could accommodate.

The facilities at the West Sound shelter are so unique, in fact, that other such organizations often send animals in need there for rehab.

“We receive animals from rehabbers all over the state,” Horn said.

Looking to the future and planning more unique fundraising events, Horn says it’s difficult to be anything other than excited.

“We appreciate what Bloedel has done,” Horn said. “We’ve lived here for a long time and they’ve been wonderful to let us use this property and we recognize the fact that they are moving forward on their master plan and that it’s growth time for everybody.”

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