Ogden wildlife rehab center granted extension, but fight isn’t over

Sep 7, 2023, 7:33 AM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 12:31 pm

Community members gather to support the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in July. No...

Community members gather to support the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah in July. Northern Utah’s only nonprofit for nursing injured animals back to health has received an extension on its use of an Ogden facility. (DaLyn Marthaler)

(DaLyn Marthaler)

OGDEN — Northern Utah’s only nonprofit for nursing injured animals back to health has finally received an extension on its use of an Ogden facility, six months after it was told it had to vacate the building. But the organization still has to scramble to prepare to move to a new facility by March 2024.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah was told at the end of February it had to relocate from its facility at 1490 Park Blvd. in Ogden, a space it had occupied since 2010, by Wednesday. The building will be bulldozed so the neighboring ​​George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park at 1544 Park Blvd. can create a 144-stall parking lot and a storage facility.

The center takes in about 4,000 injured animals annually, including around 150 different species, and has treated more than 34,000 wild animals since its inception in 2009. But all that has been put to a halt as the center has had to scramble to try to find a new location to house its animals. During part of its busiest season, April through September, it had to refuse to accept new wildlife patients.

But on Tuesday, the center learned it had been granted an extension until March 7, 2024, to prepare a new facility, through a forbearance agreement signed by Ogden city attorney Gary Williams.

This is the end of a chapter; it’s not the end of the book. This is a Band-Aid and we’ll make it work until we can get that forever home.

– DaLyn Marthaler, executive director, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah

DaLyn Marthaler, executive director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, called the forbearance agreement “critical.” She expressed her relief that her team doesn’t have to exhaust its budget paying rent at a temporary facility, and that it’s one step closer to being able to rehabilitate more animals.

“I can breathe for a minute,” Marthaler said. “Now we’ve gotten that through, I was able to actually get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in months. Now we have a little bit more time to get things taken care of and try to get up and operating as soon as we can.”

The center had to jump through many hoops to get its forbearance agreement in a process that Marthaler called “intense.” Steps included finding a new property, making sure it was properly zoned, working with the city planning department and getting a certificate of occupancy and a business license. It took the center until Aug. 31 to complete all the work.

But the fight isn’t over yet. The use of the facility is still temporary, and taking in new animals must still be halted until the center has the capacity to properly house and treat them.

“This is the end of a chapter; it’s not the end of the book,” Marthaler said. “This is a Band-Aid and we’ll make it work until we can get that forever home.”

She thanked the northern Utah community for its support and said it has been uplifting to see everyone come together to support the center through fundraisers, awareness campaigns and physical labor to help remodel the new facility.

“We would not be at this point without the community support we had,” Marthaler said.

Supporters can follow along the wildlife center’s journey and offer support through the group’s Facebook page.

Related: Wildlife rehab center given five months to vacate their current location

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Ogden wildlife rehab center granted extension, but fight isn’t over