Spotlight On: Appalachian Wild

Appalachian Wild

Baby gray squirrels

By Gina Malone

Some quite ordinary wands are working magic and helping pave the path for a long-range plan to provide care and shelter for injured and orphaned wild animals in Western North Carolina.

Appalachian Wild, the dream of co-founders Savannah Trantham and Kimberly Brewster since 2010, is in the third phase of development as a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Donors have been found. Land has been leased with a modular building that will serve as the triage facility until they can build a full-service wildlife rehabilitation facility. A Wish List has been drawn up.

“We were right on the precipice,” Brewster says. “And then the world exploded with wands!” Mascara wands.

A video that Trantham shared on Facebook in March, explaining how old mascara wands could be cleaned and repurposed as brushes to gently remove fly larvae from the coats of injured animals, went viral. “Crazy viral,” Brewster says.

“I would have never thought,” Trantham adds, “that by asking my friends to send me their old mascara wands I would see such support for the wildlife of WNC. Supporters from all over the country and now across the globe are reaching out to support Appalachian Wild and our mission.”

Priscilla Gutierrez was one. She sent wands and a handwritten note identifying herself as a combat veteran whose life was saved by her bulldog. “I have a deep love for all animals,” she said and added that she had shared the post in makeup groups and tagged several companies. “Hopefully you will receive a flood of mascara wands.”

By April, they had received over 5,000 wands. Capitalizing on the craze, Appalachian Wild is in the process of formalizing the program as Wands for Wildlife and helping supporters organize “wand-raisers.” It may seem a small thing, Brewster says, but removing fly larvae “directly saves these animals’ lives.”

Public awareness has led to donations as well. A children’s surgery unit updating its facility has offered to donate old equipment. Knitting groups are creating “nests” for orphans. Cosmopolitan magazine sent a package.

“The support that has been generated from this post couldn’t have come at a better time,” Trantham says. “With the wildlife baby season just around the corner and the need to open the doors for our facility, the outpouring of generosity and support from the post will help us achieve our goals and help thousands of injured and orphaned wild animals in our triage facility. Now, and for years to come!”

Work on the Candler building has begun and Trantham thinks they will be open to accept animals in June.

Appalachian Wild is not only going to make an impact for thousands of wild animals, but it is also going to relieve the overwhelmed home-based rehabilitators by offering much needed support. These unsung heroes serve all 18 counties in WNC. Already in 2017, Trantham says, rehabilitators have taken in more than 300 animals.

“I am so grateful to be a part of this journey to make a difference right here in ‘my backyard,’ a difference that is much bigger than me,” Trantham says. With facility plans in motion, Brewster says that she will now shift her efforts to finding partners that will help them reach the final phase of the project. “If they fund this, they save lives,” she says.

To see some adorable photographs of rescued animals, learn more about helping the cause and see the Yahoo video that went viral visit or find them on Facebook at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.

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