CRESTLINE — Jane Schnelker’s passion and love for animals are the elements that sparked her decision to open Wildlife Haven in 1987 near Tiro. Twenty-nine years later, she is still nursing animals and birds back to optimum health at the haven she calls home near Crestline.
“We opened in 1987 but became a non-profit in 1990. We have been at our current location for 15 years,” said Schnelker, quietly as to not disturb the small bobcat that was eating his breakfast she just gave to him. That was three weeks ago.
The bobcat was in Schnelker’s care for about two months after being struck by a vehicle in the Richland County area.
“The grill of the vehicle hit him and the force drove it into the radiator. There was $3,100 worth of damage done to the vehicle and the car’s right wheel then ran over him,” Schnelker said.
The injuries the bobcat sustained were first addressed by a local vet then he was placed in the care of Schnelker.
“In 30 years, this is the first bobcat I have ever had,” Schnelker said.
The beautiful animal has made a complete recovery.
“He is doing great and was released back into the wild after staying with us for about five or six weeks,” Schnelker said.
Schnelker’s main focus is to care for injured, orphaned and displaced wildlife.
“Most of the time, it is due to manmade causes that animals end up here. People call us when they come upon a sick or injured animal along the road, in their homes or when they are out walking, Schnelker said.
More than 700 wildlife “clients” make their way into the loving and nurturing environment at Wildlife Haven each year.
“We work to nurture them back to health and if they are able to go back into their natural environment, we release them. We have a few that have stayed with us for years because they are permanently disabled and could not survive in the wild,” Schnelker said.
Schnelker’s husband, Chuck Cotsmire, helps operate the business that is on the same property at their home at 3659 Ohio 598, Crestline.
“We have volunteers who also help out with things like feedings and the care of the animals and birds. We also have an intern that comes each summer which really helps us out,” Schnelker said.
Schnelker said has earned state and federal licensure to operate her long-time haven for injured, orphaned or displaced wildlife.
Wildlife Haven is open to the public and Schnelker works with local schools and the naturalists at Lowe-Volk Park to provide educational opportunities for local students.
“Education is so important to teach people what to do if they come upon an injured or displaced member of the wildlife community,” Schnelker said.
Schnelker said that she fields thousands of calls each year from area residents with wildlife questions and issues.
As a non-profit, Wildlife Haven is funded through donations, grants and fundraisers.
For more information, visit http://wildlifehaven.tripod.com or call 419-683-3228.
See more photos of guest inhabitants at Wildlife Haven in our online gallery.
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras