By Mike Kruzman /

A “baby shower” fundraiser will help the Howell Nature Center rehabilitate thousands of young animals, giving them a chance to get back to living in their natural surroundings.

Every year the nature center cares for over 4,000 animals, with roughly half of those coming to them traditionally over the next 3 months. Wildlife Director Laura Butler said many people think they are government-funded, but they are not, and they depend on revenue, grants, and donations to operate. With 65% of their spring programming canceled due to COVID, the need during this year’s fundraiser has never been more urgent. This year’s goal is to raise $100,000 through June, with a generous donor already stepping up to match the first $25,000 donated. Butler said all these animal species need different specialized care that they bring to each. The nature center has already been taking in many baby cotton-tailed rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and red foxes.

The number one goal, though, Butler says, is to actually prevent animals from needing to come to them. She said human-wildlife conflict is the number one reason why animals are brought in, with humans living closer to animals. Butler, who will be a guest on Sunday's Viewpoint program at 8:30am, said a lot of our everyday actions, unfortunately, have negative effects on animals. She has some tips for keeping the critters safe. Butler warned against cutting trees that animals might have nests in as that leaves them homeless. She also cautioned that while doing yard work like mowing or weed whipping to be careful for things like baby rabbits’ nests.

The Howell Nature Center has a wildlife hotline set up for people with questions or concerns about an injured animal or any that might seem abandoned. Butler suggests calling it if you encounter what might be an orphaned animal before bringing it in. She said many times their situation is normal, like if a nest of baby rabbits found without the mother. In that popular instance, Butler says it’s normal as the mother will leave the nest to not draw predators to it, and will return at night to feed the babies.

Donations for the baby shower fundraiser can be made in many ways, including online, by mail, or in person.

Call the wildlife rehab line at (517) 548-5530

Visit their website,

Drop off or mail a donation to the Howell Nature Center, located at 1005 Triangle Lake Road, Howell, MI 48843.