By Kaitlyn Clark
The Haldimand Press
JARVIS—Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge is looking to grow, but has found themselves unable to outbid the competition in the current seller’s market. Founder Chantal Theijn is hoping someone is willing to help them make the move.
“We are currently on about one very well used acre,” explained Theijn. She is looking for a minimum of 10 acres, but “20-30 acres would be ideal.”
The refuge, which has been operating for over a decade, currently has about 20 outdoor enclosures for the animals it helps. Outdoor enclosures mean the animals in their care can spend their time in a more naturalized habitat, which reduces stress for better healing and reduces human interaction to prepare them for a return to the wild.
“We need more (enclosures) and particularly species specific ones … with species specific features to give the animals in care the best chance at recovery and successful release,” said Theijn. Examples include a large enclosure suitable for beavers, a 100-foot long flight cage for eagles, and additional intermediate (30-feet long) flight cages for smaller birds of prey.
The refuge currently has money saved for the new property, although Theijn noted the less they spend on the land the more they can spend on new enclosures and other projects.
“We have enough to buy the land we need if the price is reasonable, but then we’d have to fundraise to build. Ideally we’d get the land for as little money as possible considering we are looking for poor or job-farmable land,” said Theijn. “We would need some cooperation from a generous landowner, but also the County with help to get building permits and such organized. We hope to keep building costs down as much as possible by using volunteers to help build.”
Theijn noted they have had previous help from area businesses and organizations for supplies and labour, and they “welcome any other professionals who are willing to help us once we get to a point and ready to build.”
Theijn is hoping to stay in Haldimand County, ideally near their current land around Nanticoke, Jarvis, and Hagersville area, although they are open to moving further away for the right property.
Once the refuge finds its new home, it will begin its expansion as funds are available, beginning with naturalizing the new property with native plants.
“We won’t likely be able to build our ideal building, so we will build what we can afford with the hopes of adding to it when money allows,” explained Theijn. “A wildlife laboratory to help do on-site testing and much needed wildlife research and an education centre are things that we would like in the future.”
Those with potential leads for suitable properties can contact Chantal Theijn by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 519-587-2980.