Wildlife Freedom Rehabiliation Center

Abby McNamara, Staff Writer

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Wildlife Freedom Inc. is a wildlife rehabilitation center in Wanaque, NJ run by Dolores Garbowski.  A wildlife rehabilitator is a person who helps animals that are hurt, distressed, or orphaned, be released back into the wild.  Garbowski’s adventure began when she was a school bus driver 35 years ago. One day, when she was picking up a kid at his stop, he walked on with a box full of baby raccoons and that’s how it all started.  Every year, Wildlife Freedom Inc. gets at least 400 animals and at least 100 of those animals are raccoons. Garbowski is the only raccoon rehabiliator in the area. Most of the animals they get are orphans.  Garbowski can take care of all native animals like raccoons, bats, and foxes, but she cannot take in bears or bobcats. Just last fall, she returned a coyote to the Lakota Wolf Preserve!

Garbowski has no fear of the animals but does things with caution.  She works closely with a vet to make sure the animals are being taken care of.  The biggest thrill and what’s most important to her, is helping animals return to the wild. Garbowski likes knowing that she’s playing a part in assuring that these animals will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Wildlife Freedom gets a lot of phone calls from the public about animal concerns.  Many times Garbowski teaches them that the animals are alright if left alone. Educating the public is an important part of her job.

Wildlife Freedom usually starts getting animals in the middle of February and the last of the animals have been released by November.  Taking care of these animals year after year requires a lot of time and money. They usually spend about $6,000 to $7,000 a year on food alone and about $1,000 of that is spent on deer formula.  Garbowski, her husband, and her daughter rely on people who volunteer. Some volunteers work under her permit and can help with all parts of the rehab. Wildlife Freedom Inc. survives strictly on donations and does not get any funding from the state.  If you want to help, they need blankets, towels, cleaning supplies, and dog/cat food. Monetary donations are tax deductible.

Donations can be sent to: Wildlife Freedom Inc. P.O. Box 31, Wanaque, NJ 17465, ATTN: Dee Garbowski