With spring comes blooming flowers, budding trees and new life all around Daviess County. No one knows this more than Kristin Allen, of Nurture to Nature Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, who is entering her busy season of animal rescue and rehabilitation.
Allen founded her nonprofit nine years ago and has helped care for wild animals that are injured, orphaned or in need, with the ultimate goal of returning them back to the wild. Allen estimates that she has returned thousands of animals back into the wild that wouldn’t have survived without her knowledgeable care.
“I feel like this is what God called me to do,” Allen said.
Her most recent rescues are six opossum siblings. A friend called Allen after she found the mother opossum had been hit by a car. She rescued four babies and immediately called Allen.
“The first thing I asked her was, ‘Did you check the pouch?” Allen said.
Opossums are marsupials, meaning females carry and nurse their young in a pouch until they are about two to three months old.
Allen said when her friend returned to the opossum, she found two more babies inside the mom’s pouch. All six, weighing around 2 ounces each, were given to Allen, who has been feeding them milk from a tube. She has slowly introduced chopped berries, scrambled eggs and bugs into their diet until they mature enough to feed themselves. Allen’s ultimate goal is to release them.
“I look at it kind of like foster care,” Allen said. “You know they’re not yours. My goal is to get them back to the wild.”
Right now, Allen is rehabilitating six raccoons, nine opossums, nine bunnies and nine squirrels, which she says is a low number of rescues for Nurture to Nature. Last year she released 70 baby squirrels and had two rounds of 75 opossums at one time last year.
Last year alone, Nurture to Nature helped rescue 400 animals. Allen said that number is around 500 if you include the birds of prey she rescued through her other nonprofit, Western Kentucky Raptor Center.
Through both nonprofits, Allen is passionate about offering children’s educational programming, which she says she is asked to do weekly.
“When youth become invested, I believe there will be a future for these animals,” Allen said. “If you can touch the children, then it eventually reaches the parent.”
Allen’s dedication and success garnered the attention of National Geographic in 2015, when she was asked to be a part of “Bandit Patrol,” a NatGeo television show that featured three women in rural western Kentucky taking on the responsibility of caring for wild animals and releasing them back into the wild. The show only lasted three seasons, but Allen continues with her calling.
“My original goal was to let people know there is help out there for these animals,” Allen said. But after investing nine years into serving Daviess County and seeing the growth of the community, Allen said her goal broadened. “With all of the construction and deforestation of our community, I want to help teach others to coexist with these animals.”