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Grand Rapids wildlife rehab group needs help avoiding closure

The Wildlife Rehab Center has been taking care of abandoned and injured wildlife since 2002, and now they need a new home.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Wildlife Rehab Center is calling on the community for help as it faces possible closure if it can't find a new home.

Peg and Roger Markle founded the organization in 2002. But this past spring, Roger suffered a serious injury while working in the barn. He's recovering, yet according to the organization "it became clear that it was time for the Markles to officially retire."

That will soon leave the Wildlife Rehab Center without a home. The organization is now on a campaign that has them looking for monetary donations and a "moderately sized piece of land with water, electric, and sewer. Outbuildings would be a plus, but can also be built."

The organization wants to build a center unlike any other in Michigan.

"Our vision is, what if we had a center that could easily accommodate not only volunteers, but educational opportunities? And if we can partner with the local school systems, and really help kids get a better idea of what wildlife is like, and how we can cohabitate with each other, that that's our dream vision," said treasurer Kurtis Carlson.

"And perhaps even to have some animal facilities where we if we had to do minor surgery, or if we needed to help out with an animal that perhaps needed to be euthanized, if we were able to do it all on site, that would be a vision."

To make all that happen, the center will need to receive $200,000 in donations. Anyone interested in helping out can visit their fundraiser on Facebook, or the center's website.

"We're really pleased with the initial response. There's been quite an initial response. In the beginning, I think we've already raised close to $20,000, just in the first week or so that it's been out there. So that's given us a sense of excitement and momentum and encouragement," Carlson said.

Carlson said achieving the center's goal would be a great way to honor the legacy of the Markels and to help wildlife for many years to come.

"This is a very special place. I'm not only a board member, but I'm a neighbor. Peg and Roger have a very special place in my heart, as well as to the surrounding neighborhood here. And I think we're all a little bit sad. It's a sad transition to go to. But like I've said, they've earned their retirement and they deserve an opportunity to move on to the next phase of their life. So we'd like to help facilitate that."

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