SOUTHWEST LOT 16, PEI — Almost a year after becoming the first person on PEI. receiving a wildlife rehabilitation permit, Candy Gallant said being able to rescue animals legally has made her job much easier.
“It’s all been very overwhelming,” the Lot 16 southwest resident said. “But in a good way.”
A year after moving to PEI. in 1972, people in her community knew her as “the crazy one with the animals”. They often brought her baby birds that they saw needing help.
However, without a provincial permit to work with wildlife, it was prohibited to temporarily house and rehabilitate animals in Prince Edward Island. Every year, she applied for a license from the province; every year he was told that it was impossible, because such a thing did not exist in PEI.
Despite operating for many years without a permit, Gallant had never been fined; that is, until January 2021, when she posted on social media about a distressed snowy owl she had rescued.
“It was the first and only fine I have ever received.”
When the incident caused a stir on social media and media coverage, the fine was later waived. After conversations with the province, Gallant was finally officially granted a permit to rehabilitate wildlife on April 30 of this year.
“It was kind of a shock,” Gallant said. “After all these years of asking, I had given up.”
According to Cora Sonier, “it is time” for the province to grant a wildlife rehabilitation permit to Gallant.
“For years, she’s been doing it at the risk of being fined,” Sonier said. “But if it wasn’t for her, I’d say probably our animal population on the island would be much worse than it is.”
Sonier was five years old when she first met Gallant while rescuing a baby bird that “fallen off the board” outside Zeller’s in Summerside. Today, she hopes to start a group to support Gallant’s work.
His main goal is to raise money to help Gallant build a sanctuary. Currently, Gallant saves from his house. Through fundraising efforts and information sessions, Sonier hopes to spread awareness of what can be done to help injured animals.
In her opinion, Gallant’s work is important to help preserve local wildlife, and she is happy to do whatever she can to help ease the load.
“I’ve always wanted to do what she does, I just don’t have the time or the experience or the knowledge,” Sonier said. “It’s the only way I feel like I can help him right now.”
Since receiving the permit, Gallant said she has been much busier with her job. She has been able to talk about her animals on social media, including a Facebook group where she can keep group members informed about the animals in her care and educate people about wildlife.
“It raises awareness, I think,” Gallant said. “It’s really nice to be able to talk about it openly…and not feel like I’m running from the law or watching what I say.”
The license also allowed Gallant to register his business — PEI Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. — as a nonprofit. The next step is to become a charitable foundation.
With more people knowing about Gallant and her passion for animal rescue, she said that in the past year she has rescued about twice as many animals as before.
Despite the increase in the number of animals passing through its doors, Gallant’s operation remains the work of one woman.
When speaking to SaltWire Network, Gallant was unsure if more permits would ever be granted, but hoped it would be a possibility.
“I kind of play by ear,” Gallant said. “I tell a lot of people who have an interest in contacting the wildlife department and finding out how they can get a permit. It would be nice to mentor someone.
Overall, Gallant said the 11 months with a license went by quickly. While that’s a relief in many ways, she said the most noticeable and welcome difference is her ability to talk about her pets in public.
“Any animal I receive always makes me smile like an idiot that I can tell the world and be proud of myself, proud of the animal that was released,” Gallant said. “It really makes me feel good. The good far outweighs all the bad. »
Kristin Gardiner is a rural reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.