Heading into summer Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is reporting a larger than usual influx of orphaned baby animals in need of rehabilitation.

SWCC Founder and Executive Director Linda Searles says the center has seen more than a 50 percent influx of orphaned raccoons, baby bears, coyotes and other native animals.

The non-profit wildlife refuge is located near 156th Street and Rio Verde Drive in Scottsdale. Throughout the year, Southwest Wildlife rescues and rehabilitates dozens of native wild animals, always with the goal to release the animals back into the wild whenever possible.

Searles believes the influx of orphaned animals is due to an increase in real estate development coupled with the warmer temperatures and nearby fires.

“We have a lot going on in our state right now and in some of these cases the mothers and their babies have literally been forced out of their homes and the babies end up lost and orphaned,” said Searles. “We are seeing dozens more babies than what we normally see this time of year.

“It’s important that we work to get these young animals rehabilitated quickly so they can be re-released back into the wild when possible and the cycle of life can continue for these animals.”

A recent example of the influx of orphaned animals includes three brown bear cubs who became orphaned after their mother was hit by a car in southern Arizona.

Those bears are currently being rehabilitated at Southwest Wildlife with the hope and goal that they can be safely re-released into the wild.

Southwest Wildlife operates solely from the public’s support and relies on donations and grants to keep the facility open with trained volunteers and veterinarians caring for the animals 24/7.

To make a donation, or for more information on how to sponsor an animal, visit southwestwildlife.org/donate/donate/donate. Public tours, small group outings and special event space are also available at Southwest Wildlife.

Established in 1994, the SWCC rescues and rehabilitates wildlife that has been injured, displaced, and orphaned. Once rehabilitated, they are returned to the wild. Sanctuary is provided to animals that cannot be released back to the wild.

Educational and humane scientific research opportunities are offered in the field of conservation medicine. Wildlife education includes advice on living with wildlife and the importance of native wildlife to healthy ecosystems. For more information or to make a donation, go to southwestwildlife.org.