Terese Evans has always had a passion for helping animals.
"I grew up on the Wapsi. We had a cabin, and there's a lot of wildlife, so it just intrigued me," said Evans.
Evans turned her backyard into an animal sanctuary for turtles, birds, rabbits and more.
"We don't get paid. The federal and state governments don't pay us to do this. It comes out of our pockets," said Evans.
Evans is the director of the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project, which rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals while educating the public on how to co-exist with wildlife. She joined the organization in 1993.
BHWRP is licensed to rehab animals and takes animals native to Iowa and anything that migrates through.
Evans said most calls to the project's 24-hour hotline involve the loss of habitat. Spring is the rehab's busiest season because babies are born and because more people are outside.
Volunteers take the animals until they're ready to be released.
"The goal is always to release the animals to the wild," Evans said. "If they cannot be released, we are under state and federal regulations to humanely put them down, and we do work with four licensed vets that help us do that."
Evans said releasing the animals is the best part of the rehab project.
"That's the best feeling ever is when you know you've done your best, when they know who they are and you've released them and they don't look back and it's good," said Terese Evans.
Evans does have a few permanent animals in her backyard, including box turtles originally brought to Iowa from Alabama and a screech owl named Luna used as an educational tool.
Evans said even though we may consider some wildlife to be "pests" at times, she hopes we remember every animal has a purpose and we all should work harder at co-existing.
For more information on the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project, click here.
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