Meet Your Nonprofit - Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Describe your nonprofit’s mission.
Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to:

Rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned native wildlife in Central Virginia and release them back into the wild;
inform our fellow citizens about what to do when they find an injured or orphaned wild animal, and who to contact for help with the animal; and, educate the citizens of Central Virginia about the habitats and needs of native wildlife.

What need in our community brought about the creation of your nonprofit?
Our founder, Nathou Attinger, was an independent licensed wildlife rehabilitator and was spending more and more of her time taking care of wildlife and answering calls from people who had found orphaned and injured wildlife. Because of the increasing number of calls, we created the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in 2004 to provide a way for the community to support wildlife rehabilitation.

How has your nonprofit made a difference in our community?
We have made a difference in two different and overlapping populations. We have provided care to thousands of orphaned and injured wild animals that are native to Virginia since our founding in 2004, and after rehabilitation have released these animals back into their normal habitat. For the wildlife population, we have reduced suffering and supported the number of healthy wildlife who are able to breed and thrive in their natural habitat. For the human population, we have provided education regarding what to do when an injured or orphaned animal is found, have supported the compassionate actions of people who have found these animals, and educated the citizenry of Central Virginia regarding the needs of wildlife and their habitats.

How can community members help you achieve your mission?
1. Contact RWS at 263-4954 if they have found an orphaned or injured wild animal and RWS personnel will help with the rescue or tell someone what to do.
2. Community members can support the work of RWS by volunteering, or donating money or supplies – see for more information on this.
3. Community members can learn more about the needs of wildlife and their habitats and how to be better stewards of our environment.

Tell us a story that has come out of your work.
So many stories…. Here is one.

We received a call from an arborist in May who had cut down a tree that had pileated woodpeckers nesting in a cavity. The arborists found the 3 babies, called RWS and were guided to create a warm nest within the truck while plans were made to meet them. They kept the baby birds warm for two hours in the truck and then were transferred to RWS where they were fed every half hour during the day when they were in the special care nursery inside. When they matured, they were moved to the fledgling aviary where they continued to be hand fed. The next stage involved learning to self-feed, and when they were able to do that, they were released back into their natural habitat. Two messages from this story are first, whenever possible cut down trees only during the winter when there won’t be nesting animals, and second, if you do cut down a tree, be sure and check for baby birds and mammals.

Learn more about Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

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