One of the newest members of the Grain Valley Partnership is Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Oak Grove. One of only four wildlife rescue nonprofits in the state, Wild Souls is a free public service whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Missouri native wildlife mammals while educating the public on humane wildlife conflicts, evictions, and exclusions in a manner to peacefully coexist.
The 501c3 organization does not receive state or federal funding. Instead, Wild Souls relies on donations, fundraisers, and volunteer caregivers to rehabilitate the wildlife they rescue. Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation was established in November of 2017 (receiving their state permit in August of 2018) by founder April Hoffman.
Hoffman has been a lifelong resident of Eastern Jackson County. She has seen her work grow to having eleven team members and a transporter (someone who delivers an animal to the nearest wildlife specialist in the case of immediate emergency assistance for particular species free of charge) in every surrounding town in the area. Hoffman’s work is definitely a labor of love.
“Three years ago, I found some orphaned baby squirrels. I realized there was basically no where to take them in Missouri. You have to be educated and possess a state permit to rehab and release, so I started Wild Souls for the smaller communities of Eastern Jackson County,” Hoffman said.
“I definitely enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes from pulling an injured owl out of a fence or a bobcat that’s been injured and needs assistance due to having a limp. To see the growth in our volunteers from the rare experience our work provides, and in witnessing the passion that comes alive from their work is rewarding.”
Hoffman has logged 620 encounters of wildlife in need during the last twelve months. The exact number being known due to the reporting requirements of the Missouri Department of Conservation. That much work has not been without its hurdles to overcome.
“Our biggest challenges have been finding volunteers, getting exposure, and people understanding wildlife rehabilitation and the responsibilities that come with it. I’m excited we are currently pulling from UCM (University of Central Missouri) students that are majoring in animal science or biology and they are getting hands on experience for their future career interests,” Hoffman said.
“This is also not just about taking in animals and cuddling with them. These are wild animals that we are interested in getting back to their natural habitats.”
Hoffman has also been motivated by increasing options to help support wildlife in need in the area and has paid her dues along the way.
“My options when I found the orphaned squirrels on a weekend were to keep wildlife at my house for two days until the nature center in Kansas City opened up on Monday or drive to St. Louis to turn over the animals appropriately,” Hoffman said.
“I flew around the United States for two years receiving the proper education at symposiums for consideration in receiving a permit. An apprenticeship was also completed by me at Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park while working under their permit for a year before applying for our own.”
Wild Souls has chosen to unite with the Grain Valley Partnership due to the connectedness of the area and what it views as the closeness of communities like Grain Valley, Oak Grove, and Odessa along the Interstate 70 corridor.
Hoffman wants the growth of commerce and the education of her mission to happen in Eastern Jackson County. Especially, since the only other options in the state to support wildlife in the vision of her mission currently exist in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia.
Wild Souls has received 200 phone calls in the last year due to its partnership with Burr Oak Nature Center in being a 24 hour hotline. That number is expected to increase during baby season from February to July. Animals like squirrels, rabbits, opossums, foxes, and racoons become the highest intakes for Wild Souls during those months.
To support Wild Souls in their effort in “Healing Wildlife and The Human Spirit” you may volunteer or donate online at
www.wildsoulswildliferescuerehab.org. The organization may also be followed on Instagram or Facebook and by phone at 1-800-495-8403.
April Hoffman founded Wild Souls Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Oak Grove in November 2017. Wild Souls is one of only four wildlife rescue nonprofits in the state.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
To support Wild Souls in their effort in “Healing Wildlife and The Human Spirit” you may volunteer or donate online at www.wildsoulswildliferescuerehab.org.
Photo credit: Valley News staff