For 45 years Helen Jameson has rehabilitated wildlife on her Blewett farm.
The large, homemade pens that dot her property were built to hold injured or orphaned moose, deer, bears, squirrels, birds and whatever else people bring her.
“Every time I’d get another animal, I’d have to build a pen to hold it,” Jameson says, explaining how her property was transformed over the years.
She says it used to be common for anyone with an acreage to care for injured wildlife on the side, but regulations introduced by the Ministry of Environment in the 1980s made it harder to do on a casual basis.
Today Jameson believes she’s the only one doing it in the West Kootenay. She gets animals from as far away as Nakusp, sometimes delivered by a conservation officer and sometimes dropped off by private citizens who happen to know about her operation.
“They bring them here injured and starving, and I’ll spend months getting them healthy again,” Jameson says. “Some people will give a donation when they bring me something to care for. Others just drop it off and go. They don’t realize I’m doing this as a volunteer, at my own expense.”
It’s a demanding job that never stops. She gets animals at all times of the year and many require feeding several times per day. She drives into town three times per week to pick up supplies, mostly milk and grains.
“People see me in the grocery store pushing shopping carts full of goats milk; they say, ‘you sure drink a lot of milk,’ but of course it’s for the wildlife,” Jameson laughs.
Greg Wheaton, assistant manager at Save-On-Foods in Nelson, met Jameson during one of her supply runs and became interested in her operation. Save-On already offers Jameson a discount on her groceries, but Wheaton wanted to do more.
This Thursday (August 29), the store will be holding a fundraiser for her rehabilitation efforts. Jameson will be set up at a table at the front of the store collecting donations for a few hours, beginning at 11 a.m.
Anyone who makes a minimum $2 donation will get to spin a prize wheel to win More Rewards points and gift cards.