When Eve-Lyn Fertig passed away on April 25, area outdoors folk lost a good friend who devoted a lifetime of care for wildlife.
A 1999 Profile report asked the question, “How many Jewish grandmothers do you know who have nursed wolves, hawks, raccoons, owl and hundreds of other injured wild animals back to health?
Eve Fertig was the answer. At her Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, Eve and Norman Fertig set up a rescue area for all kinds of needy wild birds and animals. As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, she took in creatures for care and recuperation, no matter what the injury or impairment.
Patrol officers, conservation personnel and private citizens routinely dropped off wildlife, and Eve set about helping them to return to the wilds or caring for them if they could no longer survive free.
A life member of the SPCA of Erie County, as well as a rehabilitator, she had a work schedule that took her to school classrooms during most days and evening/night schedules of caring for the injured wards at her home on Cary Road.
Hunters often perceive wildlife rehabilitators as being anti-hunting, but Eve Fertig was a solid supporter of sport hunting that former State Senator Dale Volker worked to acquire funds for her Enchanted Forest.
Her efforts impressed Safari Club International officers and members to the extent that SCI volunteers helped build a classroom/learning center behind the residence where Norm and Eve could conduct classes for youths, demonstrate rehab procedures and provide more space for bird and animal care. Elise Sielski, age 13 at the time, visited the sanctuary and put together a scrapbook on Eve’s “One-Room Schoolhouse.” That scrapbook helped to gather donations for building and for education efforts.
During one fall visit Eve was describing repairs to a netting area and the completion of the learning center out back when shots could be heard from the other side of the woods and creek bed behind house. She said, “Hunting is good to control animal numbers; I always hope it’s a clean kill.”
She was also outspoken about fundraising, knowing that developing an image as a worthy cause down the road is as valuable as donations made today. Her favorite saying was, “If you can’t get cash, get credit.”
Eve got some credit for many things she accomplished, but few knew the extent of care-giving and relief she provided for decades at her sanctuary. Her family and an extended family of outdoors enthusiasts will miss her genuine involvement in the wildlife and the lives of people who share a love for the outdoors.