Wildwoods in Duluth Temporarily Closed Due to DNR Permitting Issue

At Least One Staff Member at Wildwoods Will Need to Receive Proper Certification from the DNR Before Reopening Rehab and Triage Services

DULUTH, Minn. – The Northland’s only wildlife rehabilitation center is currently closed for rehab and triage services, meaning countless animals can no longer receive care at the facility located along West Arrowhead Road in Duluth.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to do more with the environment and to work more with wildlife because I do believe that we have a connection to that larger world,” said Jessica LaBumbard.

As of September 23, LaBumbard is the new executive director of Wildwoods. She’s worked with nonprofit organizations for the past 28 years.

“Wildwoods has never just been about rehabbing animals, but it’s about people and animals, and understanding and creating that stronger connection to the world around us,” said LaBumbard.

As of late, this connection is being put on pause at the facility. The door at Wildwoods is typically wide open, but it’s now closed due to a permitting issue with the Minnesota DNR.

“During our transition phase in the past couple of months we had some unanticipated staffing changes and it’s those changes that have resulted in the loss of our permit,” said LaBumbard.

According to the DNR, a state permit is required to care for and rehabilitate wildlife.

“We are working really hard with the DNR and we will be addressing this as quickly as we can,” said LaBumbard.

LaBumbard says there’s currently no one on staff at Wildwoods with the required state credentials.

One staff member at Wildwoods must be certified by the DNR before rehab and triage services can continue.

This reality is resulting in what she hopes to be only a brief break.

“Our facilities have passed all DNR inspections and it is not a question of the quality of care,” said LaBumbard. “Even though we aren’t accepting animals, we are continuing with the rest of our programming. We do a public education campaign; we try to spread the word. We talk about animals; we talk about our relationship with wildlife.”

On average, Wildwoods cares for more than 1,800 animals every year.

Before the temporary closure in 2019, they’ve already provided care to over 1,600 wilderness creatures, whether it be squirrels, deer, birds, or many other species of wildlife.

LaBumbard says she’s looking to have Wildwoods back up and running by spring of 2020, if not before.

Wildwood would like to remind Northland residents that if any wildlife is found injured, there are places to contact for help.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, or the Raptor Center in St. Paul are still accepting animals.

Click here for more information on these two rehabilitation centers.

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