Ogden’s wildlife rehab center’s proposed location won’t fit pelicans, beavers and other aquatic animals

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah has been searching for a new home since getting an eviction notice from Ogden City in March.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A beaver gets a syringe of nutrient rich food from Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah executive director DaLyn Marthaler to supplement its diet of aspen, willow, sweet potatoes and carrots in this file photo from April 4, 2013. In March, the WRCNU was given an eviction notice from Ogden City, and it has been searching for a new home since.

After searching for a new home since March, northern Utah’s only wildlife rehabilitation center may have a new home — but that’s not for certain.

DaLyn Marthaler, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah’s executive director, said the Ogden-based wildlife rescue may have a new temporary home at 332 S. Washington Blvd. in Ogden, just a few miles up the road from its current location. The building is an old retail space with a home that is over 100 years old attached in the back, which would allow them even more space.

“We’re in the process,” Marthaler said Wednesday. “We’ve located one [spot] that we’re going for. It has not been secured yet, but we’re working on it.”

However, even if the WRCNU would purchase the property, which they hope to finalize in July, the rescue’s issues are far from over.

Marthaler said the WRCNU still needs to secure permits and fulfill the requirements spelled out in a forbearance agreement with Ogden City in order to get an extension on their current lease, which would bump their eviction date back by six months. The extension, which the city and WRCNU signed in May, would give the rehab center some breathing room, but time is still of the essence.

The WRCNU has been operating rent-free in an Ogden City-owned building for over 13 years. The group’s eviction, which Marthaler previously said came “out of the blue,” gave them until Sept. 6 to move out. The building they occupy will likely be torn down to expand the nearby Ogden Dinosaur Park.

The rehab center had to close to new patients starting May 15, and Marthaler said the WRCNU still cares for between 200 and 300 animals. Their patients can range from large birds like eagles, to smaller mammals like beavers and river otters.

A potential move to Washington Boulevard would be temporary for the rescue. Marthaler said if the deal would go through, there is a laundry list of needed repairs: replace the flooring, put in sanitation areas, paint the walls.

“There’s 100 years of dust in there,” she said. “So there’s gonna be tons of clean up.”

But with a potential move comes hard decisions, like what kind of animals they will be able to care for. For example, the WRCNU’s current building has a stainless steel pool that cost them thousands and allows them to care for aquatic animals like pelicans and beavers. They can’t take the pool with them.

“We were the only ones in the entire state that did that,” Marthaler said. “So there won’t be anybody that takes (aquatic animals).”

She anticipates the WRCNU would be in its next space for about five years. Meanwhile, the rescue would raise money to buy land and build a facility catered to its needs. Marthaler added the future building would look like “essentially the facility that we’re in right now.”