FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Posted 9/23/2008 10:21 PM EDT
Ellijay Wildlife Sanctuary Barely Hangs On
The Wildlife Sanctuary located in Ellijay is the largest facility in Georgia able to care for orphaned, injured or abandoned panthers, cougars, black bears, deer, raccoon, skunk, fox, ferrets, squirrels, opossums, and other indigenous wild animals. The facility can have as many as 200 babies from spring to fall that are nursed and returned to the wild. The sanctuary’s animals include 3 of the rarest big cats in North America, the sub-species Eastern Panther. However, the sanctuary is barely hanging on, and may have to close unless people come to the rescue.
The rising cost of diesel fuel caused most schools to cancel their field trips to the sanctuary, and federal cutbacks resulted in the loss of federal funds. Now “Grizzly” Craig Cylke, the director, is deeply concerned. “We have to rely solely on private donations to stay in operation, which has provided less than 20% of what we need each year.” Cylke’s have sold property they own, used their own credit, borrowed from friends and haven’t take a paycheck in over 4 years trying to keep the sanctuary running. Now, the money has run out.
This is bad news for Annie, a black bear the sanctuary rescued as a cub. When Annie was just six weeks old, poachers killed her mother right in front of her. Then, so they could raise a bear cub, the poachers grabbed Annie and pulled out all her claws with a pair of pliers while the little cub bear screamed in terror and agony. The poachers were caught, prosecuted and jailed. Unable to even walk, much less survive in the wild, Annie was placed at the sanctuary. Now, six years later, Annie is a well fed, well cared for full grown black bear. However, if the sanctuary closes, instead of living 16 to 20 years, Annie will be put to death along with other bears and dozens of other animals.
When it was able, the sanctuary also rescued raptors, including red tailed hawks and many owls. “If funding picks up, we’ll renew that license and complete our bird aviary to start rescue, rehab and release again, but right now it takes more than we have just to feed and maintain our current animals,” said Grizzly.
Operating for more than 14 years as a 501(c)3 non-profit and 30 years as a sanctuary, the private 40-acre facility conducts guided tours by appointment only or educational programs for schools, scouts, or private groups.
Here is how you can help. Visit the web site www.2wild2tame.com and view the video from Channel 11 News. Then, if your heart moves you, please send us a donation. If you think it is appropriate, forward this e-mail to some of your friends who also love these beautiful creatures and want to save wild animals. Ask them to visit our web site.
"Grizzly" Craig Cylke