Hundreds of people from across the commonwealth are better prepared to care for injured wildlife after a weekend conference in the Shenandoah Valley.
The annual "Call of the Wild" conference wrapped up Sunday evening in Waynesboro. Veterinary professionals, wildlife biologists and wildlife enthusiasts took part in the two-day conference in hopes of rehabilitating animals.
Wildlife rehabilitator Michael Johnston says the annual wildlife conference is so helpful that he's only missed one of them in 18 years. Johnston and his wife run Wildlife Care Alliance in Bedford. He says it's great to meet hundreds of other people who have a place in their heart for Virginia's wildlife.
"Critters are pure innocence, the only thing they've done is get wacked by a car which is driven by a man or been captured or kidnapped by a human being," he said.
More than 200 people came out to Waynesboro for the conference hosted by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Amanda Nicholson, the director of outreach for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, says it's a record breaking number.
"We have speakers coming in from all over the United States, and sometimes Canada and this year South Africa," she said.
Attendees learned about how and when to help an animal reunite with its family and how to help animals maintain healthy lifestyles. They also practiced caring for injured animals like turtles and birds.
Nicholson says she's happy there were new, younger faces at this year's conference.
"I think we saw a lot more young people here as well, we have a lot of students from colleges and universities across Virginia."
One of the workshops taught people how to use poetry to send a message about wildlife conservation. People who attended the conference say it's more than a learning tool, it's a way to get inspired about helping wildlife.