Letters to the Editor

Bloedel Reserve and West Sound Wildlife Center both deserve our support | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

The West Sound Wildlife Center and Bloedel Reserve, your local treasures.

The island is a special place for many that love nature’s beauty and its wild inhabitants. Our little northwest paradise is home to many great charitable organizations, in particular today I have the West Sound Wildlife Shelter and Bloedel Reserve in mind. Both have had special impact on my family, and both deliver their mission to people far beyond the borders of our home.

I had the honor of living in the home of the late Gil Bailey, an important founding figure in the West Sound Wildlife Shelter’s history and wonderful man. My family got to see original structures used to rehabilitate animals in need such as raccoons. A special home for a small family with pets, it was clearly a cherished beginning for a shelter that grew to help even more in need.

Fast forward to 2013, and today I reflect upon photos of the executive directors of both organizations releasing a regal eagle back into the wild. After rehab our friend was released to live not as a pet in need, but as the noble free creature it is.

We see in recent news accounts that both organizations have great need to increase their capacity for the future, compelled by their missions. After nearly 15 years the wildlife shelter is being asked to leave its nest, after being nurtured by the Bloedel Reserve donors in a time of need.

Recognizing the call to grow in the midst of challenges, executive director Lisa Horn at the shelter has identified the need for the agency to seek a larger space and provide for new education and surgical programs. Amenities for things such as a deer rehab space call for an increase from their current 5 acres to upwards of 20 acres, a noble campaign itself.

Despite Lisa and the shelter’s appreciation for the close support and communication with the Bloedel Reserve, and need for additional space, there are those in our community that have sought to admonish the Bloedel Reserve for this change.

Try to imagine now if you were a supportive major donor for a local charity. You’ve donated faithfully for over a decade, providing your own land for the agency to operate on. Now try to imagine private citizens criticizing you in public for deciding to dedicate your assets to another great need you feel equally compelled by. Is the situation so different from what is happening today? In fact from the beginning the originators of this agreement in the case of the shelter and reserve knew it to be temporary.

Indeed no great nonprofit would want its own donor criticized, but would express its thanks for the gift of a lifetime. In fact we see in the news this very sentiment from one partner charity to the other. So who are we to complain?

Change is painful, however it also drives us to examine again our practices and goals. Likewise the future is now opening wider for the West Sound Wildlife Shelter and Bloedel Reserve, and it is up to us as donors to answer this call — rather than listen to the detractors intent on aggravating the situation.

Would they have the proverbial eagle remain in its fledgling nest as a pet, or are we here to realize the true potential of each? To me this is the same sentiment that allows those of privilege to forget we all live here on borrowed land (from our neighbors in Suquamish, and not everybody there would say "borrowed"). Where is the appreciation?

The point is gratitude for what has been received, and gratitude for the chance to reach new heights. Rather than allow minority voices to peck at the Bloedel Reserve’s mission, it is time for us to step forward and support both agencies. We want to leave our children the same treasures we enjoy today.

I think it is also valuable to note that the wildlife shelter may be on Bainbridge, however Kitsap County calls on it repeatedly for support. It and the city of Bainbridge I feel compensate very little in return for the important services provided which nobody else can do. Indeed the county government provides rent-free land to the Kitsap Humane Society in return for contract services, surely between the county and city we can find a solution for the wildlife shelter.

Perhaps as a community it is time we step forward both as donors and as taxpayers, highlighting this disparity. Or perhaps it is time to identify new opportunities for homes and call on our community champions like the people of Windermere did for PAWS of Bainbridge/North Kitsap.

Choose to support both organizations reach new horizons rather than succumb to the lowest common denominators in finger pointing. It is time to leave the nest and fly, all of us.

SEAN COMPTON

Bainbridge Island

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