Offered by: Amanda Griffin / Griffimages – for Sonflower Ranch Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
As the human population grows along the Front Range, so does the occurrence of human and wildlife contact. As we expand development and move further into their habitats, wildlife gets pushed out, and that’s where organizations like SonFlower Ranch Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SRWRC) come in. The mission of SRWRC is education and rehabilitation with the ultimate goal of peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife.
In 2017 SRWRC founder Keith Gunn received his rehabilitator license with the help and sponsorship of Todd Creek resident, Carol Manaco. Since then, Keith along with his partner Michael King and their small team of dedicated volunteers, have taken in and rehabilitated more than two hundred animals. Keith’s dedication to rehabbing wildlife stems from his childhood fascination with wildlife which morphed into over four decades of interest and working around animals, including six years as a veterinary technician.
Today, SRWRC takes in young wildlife, left orphaned by trapping or death of mom, and then Keith and his team raise them until the animals are old enough to be released back into the wild in a new location. All of the animals, per Colorado Parks & Wildlife regulations, must be released within ten miles of where they were found, without any modifications such as chips or tags. Because of this stipulation, none of the animals can be tracked, but there are negotiations in place with Colorado Parks & Wildlife to hopefully be able to chip the rescued animals prior to release in the not too distant future. The purpose of this being so that the individual animals could be tracked and success rates could be properly documented. To date, SRWRC has released animals all over the Front Range area of Colorado.
In order to foster the rescued animals’ independence and ability to fend for themselves in the wild, Keith and his team must walk a very fine line of interaction and feeding process. First and foremost, once the animas are weaned from a bottle (if that step is necessary) human interaction is strictly limited, and the food provided will closely mimic the food the animals naturally forage for when they are on their own.
For anyone interested in supporting the work of SRWRC, the sheer amount of dog and cat food, as well as fruits and vegetables required to keep these rescued animals fed until they are ready to be released is both mind-blowing and expensive. SRWRC is always in need of, and very grateful to receive, donated bags of dog and cat food, as well as fruits and vegetables, even if they are a little past their prime. For those interested in volunteering, there is always room for help cleaning out cages, while more hands-on interaction with the animals requires an appropriate rabies vaccine – which can be quite expensive.
To help support the work of the wildlife rescue operation, Keith and Michael also run SonFlower Ranch (www.SonflowerRanch.com), a wonderful animal haven and working ranch and stables. The ranch is available for events, stabling, and family outings. SonFlower Ranch holds Spring and Fall festivals, as well as regular visitation hours. In addition, they offer their own line of handcrafted natural soaps, lotions, aromatics, oils as well as farm fresh eggs and locally gathered honey and beeswax lip balm. The entrance fees, product sales, and funds from a variety of fundraising activities help support the wildlife rehab center and also provide education and educational resources to the general public to raise awareness and teach techniques for proper handling of human and wildlife conflicts.
For more info on SRWRC or SonFlower ranch, please visit on-line at: www.SonFlowerRanch.com