May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
About the Center
The Dan and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is situated adjacent to the Elk River on the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. The Center annually admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife patients from the western part of North Carolina. Some of these patients are orphans who have lost a parent or left the nest too soon. Others have suffered more severe injuries that require complex medical, surgical and rehabilitative care. In every case, each patient is evaluated individually and a suitable treatment plan is determined. Regardless of species, staff and students aim to provide outstanding care for every patient that comes through the doors.
Under the guidance of Director Nina Fischesser and veterinarian Dr. Amber McNamara, students simultaneously contribute to the success of the rehabilitation program while engaging in a one-of-a-kind, hands-on learning experience. Open 365 days per year, students comprise a large portion of the rehabilitative operations at the Center. Over the course of their training at Lees-McRae, they learn and then implement all aspects of wildlife rehabilitation, eventually becoming mentors to younger students. Experiential opportunities include phone triage, initial patient assessment, medication calculation and administration, appropriate diet preparation, habitat management, wound care, anesthesia, physical therapy, surgical assistance and more. At every step, students are an integral part of achieving the Center’s goals: to rehabilitate and release wildlife patients in need and educate the public regarding the value of wildlife in our ecosystem.
The Center began as the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute in 1995 and moved to Lees-McRae College in 2003. Growth in the Wildlife Biology and Wildlife Rehabilitation programs precipitated a need for larger facilities, including enhanced lecture space and larger animal care units. Thanks to generous support from the May Family, a new facility was opened in July 2012 as the Daniel and Dianne May Wildlife Center Rehabilitation Center.
State and Federal rehabilitation and education guidelines and permits govern the rehabilitation of wild animals. The May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is licensed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and follows rehabilitation standards established by the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.
The ultimate goal for every patient is to release each one back to their wild environment. Excitement builds as the patient improves and the possibility of release approaches. The how, where, and when of that assessment, however, can make for a complicated decision. For example, these questions are considered –
- Does the patient (like a Chimney Swift or Cedar Waxwing) need to be released into a flock? If so, can you find one?
- Is there a specific diet or habitat that the patient requires? If so, where can that be found?
- Is the patient active during the day, at dawn and dusk, or at night?
- At what elevation is the species found?
When all questions are answered, the weather is agreeable, and transportation arranged, the final step in the rehabilitation process can be achieved: releasing an injured or orphaned animal back to the wild, free place from which they came.
The rehabilitative process can take days, weeks, or months. The release is a wonderful fulfillment for students to see all of their hard work result in such a gratifying and often moving accomplishment.
Where to Find Us
Take a tour! Presentations are held on Saturdays at 1 p.m. during the academic year (August through May) and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day through August 11.
Please note: The address on the map below states the Center is located in Beech Mountain. Please disregard that, as the Center is located in Banner Elk (at 367 Mill Pond Road) on the campus of Lees-McRae College.