A Friend to the Critters
One sure way to get to know the Oregon outdoors is to get to know its wildlife a bit better, so this week we catch up with a wildlife champion and friend to the critters at a place you can visit. Dave Siddon has walked the talk of helping sick and injured wildlife for more than thirty years. He owns and manages Wildlife Images near Grants Pass in Southern Oregon.
Throughout his lifetime of study and hands-on practice, Dave Siddon has come to know hawks and eagles and vultures and scores of other sharp-eyed birds of prey very well. For many years he was a fixture at the Oregon Zoo – even started their raptor program. Twelve years he decided to go home to Wildlife Images and follow his father’s life’s work rehabilitating sick or injured animals and educating folks.
His father, Dave Siddon Sr., was a well-known figure in the wildlife rehabilitation world. He opened the clinic in 1981 following his own passion for helping cougars and eagles and bears get well and get back to the wild. Dave Sr. passed away in 1996 following a battle with cancer, and his son promised to dedicate his life to the center’s most important mission.
Dave Siddon, Jr was well prepared for the challenge. He worked for Sea World where he trained sea lions and dolphins, he worked at the zoo for a dozen years and he has blazed his own trail into the world of wildlife rehabilitation. Wildlife Images spreads across 24 acres offering wildlife viewing opportunities at every turn: perhaps a fox, a bobcat, a large brown bear and especially the wildlife that fly.
The center receives and treats over 2,500 animals annually, and approximately 90 percent of those that survive their initial injuries are returned to the wild. The organization’s clinic, nature center, and animal holding facilities are located on twenty-four acres of natural habitat adjacent to Oregon’s famous Wild and Scenic Rogue River, which serves as an excellent location for wildlife release.
Each year thousands of visitors tour the center to see animals ranging from grizzly bears to mountain lions to small arctic foxes and even tiny hummingbirds. Wildlife Images offers unique educational opportunities to schools, organizations, and the general public and conducts tours six days a week year-round. Reservations are required, and the facility is closed most national holidays.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.
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