News

Embattled wildlife rehabilitator leaving Cedar Rapids

Amber Oldfield moves a young raccoon back into its enclosure July 22 and prepares to feed it at her northeast Cedar Rapids home. Oldfield has lived in this home for 10 years and is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Amber Oldfield moves a young raccoon back into its enclosure July 22 and prepares to feed it at her northeast Cedar Rapids home. Oldfield has lived in this home for 10 years and is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — A licensed wildlife rehabilitator at odds with the city of Cedar Rapids over a zoning code violation said she is relocating to Buchanan County and no longer will serve Cedar Rapids.

Amber Oldfield, 39, who faced a choice of moving or giving up the animals, said last month she expected it to take another year-and-a-half to get her affairs in order and find a new place to mend injured, sick or abandoned wildlife, such as foxes, beavers, raccoons, ducks, geese, rabbits and other critters.

However, she was able to find a home with a half-mile-long driveway on a 2-acre property.

”I’m off the road, so that is good,” she said. “To be honest with you, it is a relief that I am moving forward to something where I can continue what I am doing.”

Oldfield said she approached a lender thinking she didn’t have a shot at a loan because of bad credit, but was approved for a home mortgage and “skipped right through it,” she said.

Oldfield said a closing date has been set for no later than Nov. 8, and she anticipates moving in around that time.

“The animals will move first,” she said.

She estimates $5,000 to set up cages and enclosures for the animals at the new property. She still plans to hold a silent auction fundraiser from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at Indian Creek Nature Center, 5300 Otis Rd. SE, with the proceeds going toward setup costs.

With the extra room, Oldfield anticipates taking in more animals. She has been a wildlife rehabilitator for 16 years and cares for and releases about 300 animals a year.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

It had come to the city’s attention that she was running her operation from her home, including several large penned areas in her yard. The city’s zoning code does not allow such an operation in a single-family residential zone.

The city was flexible in allowing her time to comply, which Oldfield said she appreciated.

“I thanked (the zoning administrator) for allowing me the time for getting things figured out,” she said. “It was still a relief to have someone working with me. At the end of the day, it was not optimal, but it could have been worse.”

Her rescue in the new location will serve Linn, Buchanan and Delaware counties, but she said she will not serve Cedar Rapids. She said she has a choice of who and where she covers, and while she will be there for people who call her, for the city she will not.

“I feel as though the city never supported me in the first place, and they just wanted me gone,” she said. “I am very happy this is coming to an end. I have excitement I am moving on. There are not as many restrictions as being in the city.”

City officials said anyone in Cedar Rapids with wildlife rehabilitation needs should contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.