Wild volunteerism

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The California Wildlife Center helps injured animals like this squirrel. Many of the rehabilitated animals can be released back into the wild.

The California Wildlife Center (CWC) will hold volunteer-training sessions next month and in early March in a revamped format from its previous training programs. Unlike past years in which basic training was offered each month, the CWC is conducting an intensive training program that will be the only one scheduled for 2004. CWC officials say the new training format will give Malibu and Los Angles residents the best possible preparation for the center’s busiest season, which is from March through August.

Founded in 1996 and located just outside Malibu, the CWC rescues sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. The center rehabilitates the animals, which range from large sea lions to small squirrels. The CWC is the primary facility called when distressed marine mammals and sea birds are found by local beachgoers and when wildlife is brought to the Los Angeles County animal shelters. It is also the only local facility licensed to rehabilitate deer in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and one of the few licensed to rehabilitate coyotes in Southern California.

Following rehabilitation, many of the animals are eventually released into the wild. CWC volunteers do a variety of tasks at the center, including taking part in the rescuing and caring for the animals. They also transport the wildlife to the center and help with fundraising, community outreach and administrative projects

The CWC receives no state or municipal funding, but relies on grants, donations and membership. The organization was recently awarded the Prescott grant, which provided it with $100,000, greatly increasing its ability to accomplish its goals.

The volunteer-training program is divided into three sessions, with each session offered more than once. To successfully complete the course, one must attend all three sessions. Volunteers are required to become members of the CWC, which is $40 for an individual membership. There is also a $10 training-materials fee. There is a volunteer orientation meeting on Jan. 24 from 11:00 am to noon. This meeting will include a lecture on the history of the CWC, its mission and requirements for volunteering. Attendance is recommended, but not required. To make a reservation or to get more information, call 818.222.2658.

Schedule: Session 1 – Feb.1, noon-3 p.m., Feb. 4, 7-10 p.m., Feb. 7, 10 a.m.-1p.m. Session 2 – Feb. 15, noon-4 p.m., Feb. 18, 6-10 p.m., Feb. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Session 3 – Feb. 29, noon-4 p.m., March 3, 6-10 p.m., March 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.