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A bird's eye view

Rescuer likes to live life on the wild side
By: Michael Kirby
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Arriving at Dana Fasolette's home in Meadow Vista, the peaceful setting is enhanced by wild birds flying about her property, eating on the numerous bird feeders spaced around the grounds. An aviary filled with birds is in the backyard and a horse trailer sits in the driveway. As the interview begins, a red tail hawk sits on a perch on her home's floor. Fasolette's life has always involved animals. Since childhood she remembers rescuing small critters that were injured or needed a home, and all of her childhood pets were strays or injured animals. Fasolette moved to the area from Sacramento in 1989 and settled in Meadow Vista. A routine trip to the vet with one of her animals connected her in a roundabout way to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, an organization she now heads as president. A woman sat in the waiting room with a baby jackrabbit and a squirrel each in a box waiting to see the vet. Quickly a conversation ensued and Fasolette soon found out that the woman, Kathy Northey, was a member of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, and she was invited to attend their monthly meeting. What she had in the box was not what you would expect to see at the vet and I told her about an experience when I rescued a couple of baby gray squirrels and she told me, ˜We need you in the group,' Fasolette said. That was eight years ago and Fasolette has been a member ever since. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is a nonprofit, 100-percent volunteer organization that rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife. The countywide group started in 1991 and currently has 26 members, each one specializing in a type of animal that they have been trained to rehabilitate and return to the wild. We have people that are on call 24/7, 365 days a year ” we're never off, Fasolette said. My husband and I actually went out on a call on Christmas Eve. Hundreds of foxes, raccoons, fawns, coyotes, skunks, squirrels, reptiles, owls, hawks and songbirds are rescued and carefully nursed back to health to return to their natural habitat each year by the rescue group. Our main goal is to rehabilitate the animals into the wild, and great effort is taken to keep the animals as wild as possible while we do this, Fasolette said. We don't want to ever treat them as pets, the object is to keep them as close to wild as possible while we rehabilitate them. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue also uses some of the animals that cannot return to the wild because their injuries are too substantial for educational purposes. Traveling to schools, civic groups, and other groups concerned with animal welfare, trained team members of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue and specially trained rescued animals and birds visit schools and groups to explain and show examples of why wildlife is so important to our environment. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is funded completely by private donations and grants, and one of the goals of the group and Fasolette is to have a rehabilitation center to care for the injured animals and hold education classes. We're completely nonprofit and exist by donations, grants and volunteer help, Fasolette said. The rescue group works with animal control and the Department of Fish and Game, lending their expertise and knowledge of the wildlife they work with. Fasolette works as a telecommunication technician and lives in Meadow Vista with her husband, Tom. Being a supportive husband, Tom helps with transportation, feeding and is a great cage builder. As far as her domesticated animals, she has one dog, four cats, a macaw, five cockatiels and one horse.