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Grant's Getaways - A Friend to the Critters

Grant's Getaways - A Friend to the Critters

by Grant McOmie

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on April 14, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 7:18 PM

Dave Siddon has walked the talk of helping sick and injured wildlife for more than thirty years and he owns and manages “Wildlife Images” near Grants Pass in Southern Oregon.

Throughout his lifetime of study and hands-on practice, Dave Siddon has come to know hawks and eagles and vultures and scores of other sharp-eyed birds of prey very well.

For many years he was a fixture at the Oregon Zoo – even started their raptor program.

Twelve years he decided to go home to Wildlife Images and follow his father’s life’s work rehabilitating sick or injured animals and educating folks.

His father, Dave Siddon Sr., was a well-known figure in the wildlife rehabilitation world. He opened the clinic in 1981 following his own passion for helping cougars and eagles and bears get well and get back to the wild.

Dave Sr. passed away in 1996 following a battle with cancer, and his son promised to dedicate his life to the center’s most important mission.

“When my father was dying of cancer he came to me and said – ‘would you consider leaving the zoo and making sure my place doesn’t die along with me?’ and how do you say no to that? So I came down here and dedicated my life to making sure this place continues to do the good work it does.”

Dave Siddon, Jr was well prepared for the challenge. He worked for Sea World where he trained sea lions and dolphins, he worked at the zoo for a dozen years and he has blazed his own trail into the world of wildlife rehabilitation.

Wildlife Images spreads across 24 acres offering wildlife viewing opportunities at every turn: perhaps a fox, a bobcat, a large brown bear and especially the wildlife that fly.

Siddon noted that some animals come to Wildlife Images from would-be pet owners who realize too late that some critters just don’t make good house pets.

Each year thousands of visitors tour the center to see animals ranging from grizzly bears to mountain lions to small arctic foxes and even tiny hummingbirds.

The center receives and treats over 2,500 animals annually, and approximately 90 percent of those that survive their initial injuries are returned to the wild.

The organization’s clinic, nature center, and animal holding facilities are located on twenty-four acres of natural habitat adjacent to Oregon’s famous Wild and Scenic Rogue River, which serves as an excellent location for wildlife release.

As we strolled past display cages containing coyotes, a badger, porcupines, red foxes, and others, Dave pointed out with pride the close up opportunities that visitors enjoy at an open-air exhibit for bald eagles, turkey vultures, and ravens.

As we walked into the small building, Dave reached over and lifted a large metal window. The opening looked out to a grassy area, dotted with many small native plants and towering trees jutting to the sky.

A fine mesh net draped over the entire scene and prevented the birds from leaving the grounds. “Perfect perches,” I noted as I admired the very natural setting.

Dave then shared more of his father’s vision and passion. “It was my father’s real dream to put together a facility for the bald eagles and other raptors where people can see them without wire and obstructions. They’re such beautiful and majestic birds, you’d like to see them in some sort of situation that mimics what you’d see in the wild.”

Wildlife Images offers unique educational opportunities to schools, organizations, and the general public and conducts tours six days a week year-round. Reservations are required, and the facility is closed most national holidays.

You can visit  - wander with a tour and learn more about the remarkable people that help Oregon wildlife – motivated by Siddon’s simple yet powerful belief: “If you don’t have wildlife it’s not a good place to be.”