Wildlife center hires veterinarian

Jennifer Riley

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce has hired Dr. Jennifer Riley as its new director of veterinary services. She will be tasked with specialized care for wildlife the center takes in.

Riley began working full time at the center last Monday, coming from practicing wildlife medicine at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach, Florida. Previously, she had worked at the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic and then at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife Inc. in Sanibel, Florida.

Although Riley said she had to adjust to the climate differences when she moved to the area two weeks ago, the wildlife she’ll be treating at the center will be similar to what she tended to in Florida – though she hasn’t encountered too many hibernating animals before.

“It’s pretty standard medical service, just slightly different species,” she said.

Riley fills the space left by veterinarian Belinda Burwell, who left the center late last spring. Burwell founded volunteer nonprofit organization Wildlife Veterinary Care later in 2015.

David Bancroft, executive director at the center, said that wildlife veterinarians and consulting veterinarians had been working with Blue Ridge Wildlife Center before Riley joined the team to perform surgeries, X-rays and other operations that the rehabilitators don’t perform.

“Her skills as a veterinarian and educated as such provide her with a level of skills and abilities that are a lot more advanced than a rehabber,” he said. “Rehabbers are very talented and they are usually the first line when people bring an animal in.”

Riley said she has worked with other veterinarians or veterinary technicians, “but the rehabilitators here are amazing. They’re incredibly well-versed to be doing all of this.”

In a news release, center board members expressed their confidence in Riley’s skills and her contribution as a complement to the center’s new facility, which Bancroft said will most likely be opening sometime in the spring.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com