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Barn Owl in rehab

A Barn Owl rehabilitated by Napa Wildlife Rescue.

Napa Wildlife Rescue needs help finding 2 acres or more of local land for a new home to nurse injured and orphaned animals.

The nonprofit takes in about 1,200 animals annually ranging from baby songbirds to raptors to squirrels to opossums to fawns. Its central clinic consisting of trailers and aviaries for about 10 years has been on county land along Silverado Trail northeast of Yountville.

Now Napa Wildlife Rescue needs some rescuing. It faces having to move out by the end of next summer and must find a place to go to avoid a worst-case scenario.

“It’s called going out of business,” said group president John Comisky. “I personally don’t believe a county like Napa will allow that to occur. But we have to have a clinic.”

Napa Wildlife Rescue is the only group in the county with state and federal permits to do the animal rehabilitation work, he said.

The land along Silverado Trail used by the clinic is the county road yard. Comisky said what was once a quiet spot these days has more county activity and a mountain of road construction material.

Public Works Director Steven Lederer said more road maintenance money is coming in through the local Measure T sales tax and the state’s vehicle fee and fuel tax increases. Suddenly, the county has more road projects and more equipment and materials at the Silverado Trail site.

“We need the space,” Lederer said. “It is a road yard, after all.”

The lease between the county and Napa Wildlife Rescue expires in June 2020, but Lederer said the county will allow the group to remain until the end of summer.

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So the search is on for a temporary or permanent new home. Whether Napa Wildlife Rescue can find as good as deal as it had with the county remains to be seen. Lederer said the county charged no rent and provided free water and power.

Location matters, Comisky said. The clinic needs to be reasonably accessible by the group’s many volunteers, not out in the boonies. It needs access to water, electricity and septic or sewer service.

Napa Wildlife Rescue would like a long-term lease or to own the land. The group said that tax benefits may be available for a donation or sale at a reduced cost. Comisky said that ideally, the clinic would be in its new home by March, before the influx of baby birds that comes in April.

Two sites mentioned by Comisky have at least so far fallen through. One is on state Department of Fish and Wildlife property on Silverado Trail. The other is at Skyline Wilderness Park along Imola Avenue near the city of Napa.

Since Napa Wildlife Rescue was leasing the county land, the group knew the day could come when it would need to relocate. For that reason, it has trailers and aviaries that can be moved.

“If you lease and your lease has an end date, you need to be as flexible as you can,” Comisky said.

Anyone who has suitable land for Napa Wildlife Rescue or wants to donate money to the relocation effort can contact Comisky at qualjohn@hotmail.com, Carol Poole at cpoole1135@yahoo.com or call 707-685-5411.

Napa Wildlife Rescue began in 1991. It uses what Comisky called at “hub and spokes” system, with the central clinic and with volunteer experts rehabilitating certain animals at their homes. The group also has a 5-acre site dubbed “Shafer Sanctuary” donated by Shafer Vineyards where large birds rebuild flight strength before returning to the wild.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.