During a brutal winter, Sakonnet Times editor, Bruce Burdett, captures the craziness and filled-to-capacity seen by West Place. The full article is below.
Wendy Taylor Humphrey holds a Canada goose that was rescued in Westport. It is one of many that her sanctuary is nursing back to health after a tough winter. Richard W. Dionne Jr. photo
A brutal winter has brought a population explosion to Tiverton’s West Place Animal Sanctuary.
Owner Wendy Taylor Humphrey said the victims began arriving over seven weeks ago — geese, swans and ducks in very bad shape.
“Snowplow drivers, lots of people (even duck hunters) started bringing them in” after finding them on roadsides and in back yards. They came from Little Compton (especially around Sakonnet Point), Westport, Tiverton, Portsmouth, Bristol and other places.
“And most of them were in real trouble — people found them lying down, unable to walk, starving, dehydrated — close to death.”
One day alone saw 14 arrive — the total reached around 60 before slowing down about a week ago.
She has been giving them waterfowl feed (the sort found locally at places like M&R Feed), some have needed intravenous treatment, but day by day, most have been getting better.
“The really great news is that, of all the birds brought in, we’ve only lost two so far,” she said
The hope is that they’ll recover to the point that they can be given a “soft release” — allowed out into the protected fields and pond at the West Place Sanctuary. And then, Ms. Taylor Humphrey said, the best outcome would be for them to return to the wild one way or another.
Most of the victims have been Canada geese, along with nine swans and a few ducks.
It has been a real burden for a facility that last year took in around 100 birds total — most of them babies and most after mid-April through early summer. “We’re well over halfway there and are still weeks away from our usual busy season.”
All that feed has cost the sanctuary an extra $30 a day — “we’re around $2,000 over budget.” The sanctuary recently received an $8,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, money that Ms.Taylor Humphrey said is sorely needed anytime — “but now, the timing could not have been better.”
Ms. Taylor Humphrey said she is told mortality rates have been enormous in the wild — several hundred birds each have died in the Sakonnet Point area and Westport — although there is no way to get an accurate count — “It’s probably higher than that.”