Dedicated to making the world a

better place one squirrel at a time

‘There's a  baby raccoon wailing all night long in my crawl space!’

(Meet Larry, pictured to the left)

‘I found a shivering coyote pup huddled in some garbage behind my shed!’

‘There's several baby squirrels with their eyes still closed lying on my sidewalk!’

‘My dog killed a possum and I found injured babies still alive in her pouch!’

‘I accidentally hit  a deer in the road.  What do I do with her fawn?’

‘My cat killed a rabbit and now I found a nest full of baby bunnies!’

Hi, I’m Jackie Marsden,

Every day I receive calls like these.   As the county’s only licensed wildlife rehabilitator, if for any reason I’m

unable to care for an injured or orphaned wild mammal, either because I haven’t the time or the personal funds to cover its care, the animal must be euthanized by law!  

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to find out more.  If you agree there needs to be a real solution,  Click Here or on the duck to see how you can be a part of the solution to bring a permanent facility to Clark County - one that can serve the needs of Southwest Washington’s distressed wildlife for years to come.     It’s wrong that the fate of our county’s distressed wildlife depends on the resources of one private citizen and I need your help to change that!

                                                                                                                 Sincerely,  Jackie Marsden,  Founder of Squirrel Refuge

      Founder,  Squirrel Refuge

Whose responsibility is it to take care of Clark County’s wildlife?

What resources exit today in Clark County?

Why aren’t there more rehabilitators in Clark County?

Why does the law limit rehabilitation to licensed individuals?

Doesn’t the Department of Fish & Wildlife provide grants?

Can’t I just take distressed wildlife to the Humane Society or my vet?

Aren’t there lots of resources in Oregon, just across the river?

What about rehabilitators in other Washington counties?

Urban wildlife are pests!   Why would I want to support a center?


Whose responsibility is it to take care of Clark County’s wildlife?

The mission of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is, ‘To preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.’   In other words, the WDFW emphasis is on ensuring healthy populations of native species for public enjoyment and commercial use.  If one baby squirrel dies, or even 1000 baby squirrels, the overall health of the population in the state is not materially impacted.  The WDFW rarely involves itself with the fate of an individual animal unless its listed as threatened or endangered, illegal activity is underway, or it poses an immediate and significant threat to a person or property.  Very few wildlife interactions fall within this purview.

The Wildlife Rehabilitator’s focus is on the individual animal and person whose sensibilities are impacted by contact with injured or orphaned wildlife.  Over 95% of our intakes are babies, animals displaced through human activity, or injured along our roads. We don’t deny care based on the species or economic value of the animal. It has value to us and to the person with the humanity to bring it to us.  Our focus is on providing the best care and treatment to see wildlife returned to its place in nature or to provide a compassionate end to suffering. We do this without compensation every day; 365 days a year, often while having families and working full time jobs.  As volunteers, we are not required to accept any animal and our capacity is limited by our personal resources.

What’s the solution?   

In most states, this need is met through the voluntary services of privately run non-profits staffed almost exclusively with non-paid volunteers supported through donations from private citizens like you, along with grants from charitable foundations and county government under the advisement of their commissioning body.  Please contact your Clark county commissioners and let them know you want a wildlife center here in Clark county.


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What resources exit today for Clark County?

The WDFW office in Vancouver has a dedicated animal control officer who will assist with dangerous wildlife situations or illegal activities related to wildlife.  The WDFW doesn't have local facilities to care for confiscated wildlife - even when that wildlife is young and healthy. All seized animals are euthanized.  

911 or the Sheriff's office, being primarily concerned with issues of public safely, will assist if the situation is an emergency, or a person or property is in immanent danger. All other assistance, such as shooting a deer with a broken leg or a raptor along the road with a broken wing, is done at their own discretion and availability.

Animal control officers serve to protect and enforce laws related to domestic pets.  On occasion they will assist with picking up and transporting non-dangerous wildlife the Humane Society of Southwest Washington for humane euthanasia, but this service is provided at their discretion and based on availability.

The Humane Society of Southwest Washington’s charter is to serve the needs of domestic animals; however, they will usually accept wildlife for the purpose of humane euthanasia.  They do so voluntarily and at their own discretion and capacity.  In some cases they will contact Squirrel Refuge for pickup. Entering a domestic animal shelter is stressful for most wildlife and places domestic pets at risk.

Wildlife & Pest Control companies will remove troublesome wildlife for a fee. Wildlife must be euthanized once removed from the property.  Historically, Nature’s Best Pest Control in Vancouver is the only company that has arranged with Squirrel Refuge to take orphaned wildlife.

Veterinary Clinics may hold wildlife to provide emergency care for up to 48 hours at which time they must transfer  the animal to a licensed facility or humanely euthanize.  Some charge a fee. Many will provide unlicensed care ‘under the table.’

Squirrel Refuge is licensed for small mammals only because of space limitations in housing and

time constraints. All medium and large mammals must be euthanized or transported to  outlying facilities

around the state. Squirrel Refuge does not have the resources or space to handle the growing needs of Clark County.

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Why aren’t there more rehabilitators in Clark County?

Wildlife rehabilitation is extremely demanding - consuming large amounts of time, energy and money!  Licensure requires training, interning under an experienced rehabilitator for a minimum of six month, passing one or more comprehensive exams, building facilities that must meet a long list of standards for each species rehabilitated, passing inspections, and a veterinarian willing to help – all with no compensation!  It’s a rare individual who thinks, ‘Sign me up for some of that!’  If you’re that ‘special snowflake’, go to  WDFW Wildlife Rehabilitation page.

Imagine if a center existed where training, internship, and exam preparation opportunities were readily available. One that’s been funded, staffed by volunteers, and already inspected for legal rehabilitation of multiple species. Doesn’t that make becoming licensed a lot more attractive?  We think so!   

Many hands make the task lighter...

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Why does the law limit rehabilitation to licensed individuals?

The law in Washington State mandates that all injured and orphaned (distressed) wildlife be cared for (rehabilitated) under the supervision of a trained and experienced individual licensed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  If a licensed individual is unavailable, does not have the proper endorsements or capacity for the species, or is unwilling to accept the animal into care for any other reason, the animal must be humanely euthanized.  It’s the law [WAC 232-12-841]

Urban wildlife is all around us and sooner or later, nearly everyone finds themself faced with distressed wildlife. When they do, most are surprised to learn there are so few resources to help. Most people don’t know that possessing wildlife without a permit is against the law [WAC 232-12-064].  With ‘orphan in hand’ they turn to their veterinarian clinic, or neighbor who ‘raised a squirrel before’, or ‘go it alone’ as the seemingly compassionate option to euthanasia.  It’s understandable and laudable. Unfortunately, it often ends poorly with the animal dying or lacking the skills needed to survive in the wild.  All licensed wildlife rehabilitators have to undergo training, internship and written examination, demonstrate a partnership with a local veterinarian and a pass facilities inspection before a license is granted.   

As rehabilitators, we have access to formulas made specifically for many species of wildlife such as skunk, squirrel, opossum, raccoon and deer. We have the tools and training to successfully nurture these animals to avoid common problems like imprinting and diseases such as aspiration phenomena, diarrhea, and bloat.  We have access to a network of rehabilitators and wildlife veterinarians who specialize in the species we see in rehabilitation.

Rehabilitators work with each other transferring animals to ensure babies are raised with others of its kind in an environment that meets their physical, mental, and social needs.  

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Doesn’t the Department of Fish & Wildlife provide funding or grants to wildlife rehabilitators?

Yes. The WDFW has biennial grants available to rehabilitators, typically around $100k to spend over a two year period for all centers & rehabilitators in Washington.  These funds are awarded towards rehabilitation activities for priority species.   They may not be used to provide nutrition, purchase equipment, house, treat or rehabilitate the most common species of urban wildlife we see every day - such as urban squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, or any animal designated as non-native or nuisance species.

When the public is faced with an orphaned or injured animal in hand, they typically don’t want to be told there is no funding or resources for its care.  The WDFW mission is to support populations and ecosystems; whereas, wildlife rehabilitators’ focus on individual animals as a public service to impacted citizens.  Funds can be requested for some species, such as deer, in the next 2016 biennium.  

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Can’t I just take distressed wildlife to the Humane Society, animal control, or my veterinarian?

The Humane Society of Southwest Washington receives wildlife from both the public and animal control; however, they are required by law to transfer them to a permitted rehabilitator or humanely euthanize the animal on intake.  

The same is true for veterinarians, pest control and wildlife removal operators who do not have an arrangement with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator willing to take recovered wildlife.  

Note: Oregon requires pest and wildlife control companies to euthanize all wildlife on removal from the property.

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What about rehabilitators in other Washington counties?

The nearest rehabilitator outside of Clark County is Ocean Beach Veterinary Clinic in Longview, about an  hour away.  Squirrel Refuge has a reciprocal relationship whereby we transfer wildlife between us; however, Ocean Beach is typically an initial care facility with some capacity for long term care, but not enough to handle the needs of Cowlitz county, let alone imports from Clark county.

The Paws Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, nearly 200 miles from Vancouver (Snohomish county) will accept aquatic and large mammals, and some raccoons from Clark County but priority is given to King & Snohomish county residents – the rest must be sent across the state to any center with the willingness to have them, all other babies are euthanized.

Coyote are accepted at Wolf Town in King County (180 Miles).  Deer and most other medium sized mammals are accepted at For Heaven’s Sake Wildlife Center in Thurston County (approximately 100 miles North)

Most centers throughout the state are reluctant to fill their limited space with transfers from other counties and the requestor must provide transportation to the receiving facility.  

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Aren’t there lots of resources in Oregon, just on the other side of the river?

It is illegal to transport wildlife across state lines without undergoing a lengthy process of approvals, inspections and permits. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) altogether prohibits the transfer of many common urban species.   

No Oregon wildlife center will accept wildlife from Washington State with the exception of birds covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Oregon law requires the euthanasia all urban squirrels (eastern gray and fox), eastern cottontail rabbits, opossums and several other urban species. To do otherwise puts Oregon rehabilitators at risk for losing their ODFW rehabilitation permits.

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Founding a Wildlife Center

Does Clark County need a wildlife center?

We think so and so does Larry the Raccoon!

Ready to Help?

Click on the

duck to find

out how

Least chipmunk. Found in a truck engine after breakdown along side the road.

Orphaned possums are a common sight in Vancouver. Frequently, they just fall off by accident and get left behind.

Baby Douglas Squirrel’s nest burned when her tree caught fire from a nearby burn pile.

Black tail deer fawn

Coyote Pup found huddled in garbage after being separated from her pack..

Approximately 250,000 deer are kill on our roads annually, orphaning thousands of fawns.

Litter of baby raccoons picked-up after mom was killed by the landowner.

A nursing domestic white rabbit is supervised while serving breakfast to these wild eastern cottontail bunnies.

Curmudgeony Primate  

Orphaned Harbor Seal at PAWS Wildlife Center

Urban wildlife are pests!   Why would I want to support a center?

Wildlife Rehabilitators do more than just treat distressed animal. We act as a community resource for resolving a variety of wildlife conflicts – from advice on humane solutions to  referrals to the best resources specific to your problem.   Sometimes we loan traps or even help with removing trapped wildlife from fireplaces or other tight situations mischievous wildlife sometimes land.

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