Oakland rent board rejects wildlife center's appeal


Summer is winding down, but one wildlife rescue center is still packed with babies. There are a few 2-month-old raccoons that were discovered outside a home in Piedmont.

"For about five days they were crying and there was no sign of the mother," says Lila Travis, the wildlife center director.

A baby squirrel was brought in after his mother ate rat poison.

"It had gone through her milk," says Travis.

Now, the baby squirrel is recovering and will be released soon, just like the other 500 to 600 animals a year that end up at the Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Center.

Volunteers run the center in the backyard of a home in the Oakland Hills. They got donated labor and supplies worth more than a $100,000 to terrace the hillside and put in steps for easy access to the animals, but as ABC7 reported in July, the owner wants them out.

"Their lease expired in May. They have stayed on beyond that. I have a handicapped mother who needs use of a property," says property owner Andrea Wood.

By law, they can stay until next May, but the owner raised the rent 66 percent. Travis appealed to the rent board, but just learned she lost.

"As a non-profit organization depending on donations, that's an unfeasible amount of rent for us to pay," says Travis.

The center is looking for a lawyer to help and in the meantime is scrambling to find a new location, but so far, no luck.

Travis showed ABC7 a scrapbook full of letters of that came in after our first story aired. They also got $25,000 in donations which is a great boost, but not enough to buy a permanent home.

So now center volunteers are launching a letter writing campaign, hoping to get help from an East Bay city or park district.

"We're not asking for funding from the city. We just want to be able to continue to do our work and we need a place to do it," says Travis.

The wildlife center serves the areas around Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda. The director of Oakland Animal Control says it's a critical resource during a time of tight budgets.

"We frequently get calls for animals stuck in fences, stuck under their homes, injured by cars. There's many, many calls we get regarding wild animals that need our assistance and Yggdrasil is our partner in that, and if we don't have them, it will be much more difficult for us to respond to those calls," says Megan Webb from Oakland Animal Services.

That means more wild animals would have to be euthanized. For now the wildlife center is hanging on, but desperately in need of more volunteers and donations.

"We are definitely still open, and in full operation and boy, do we have a lot of animals right now that need daily care," says Travis.

Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Center is looking for people to write letters to local officials, volunteer at the center, volunteer to do foster care in your home, and for donations.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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