Through land preservation, wildlife rehabilitation, and the framework of Reconnection Ecology®, Earthfire Institute serves as a local and international seed center for new ideas of how to relate to wildlife in a way that works for both humans and animals.
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What is Earthfire's mission and vision?
Earthfire’s mission is to reawaken our deep connection to wildlife and nature through Reconnection Ecology®, expanding our sense of community to include all living beings and moving us to protect thriving habitats for all Life.
Leading environmental thinkers are coming to the increasing understanding that our ecological crisis is essentially an emotional one, based on our sense of separation from nature. When we reconnect on a more visceral level, we’re more likely to make personal decisions that benefit our global ecosystems.
What are Earthfire’s areas of focus?
Earthfire Institute is an interdisciplinary organization.
Domesticated Wildlife Sanctuary
The wildlife sanctuary is for animals that cannot be released for various reasons. These animals are lovingly cared for and live out their lives at Earthfire, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to learn from them.
Earthfire takes in injured and orphaned wildlife of Idaho with the express purpose of rehabilitating them for release back to the wild.
Our primary conservation education focus is saving land for wildlife, locally and globally. We do this through monthly newsletters covering a variety of topics related to nature and conservation, retreats held on Earthfire property, online salons, and social media messaging. Our Executive Director also speaks at national and international conferences in order to bring our message to the global platform.
At Earthfire, we’ve pioneered an approach called Reconnection Ecology®, which opens us to a more inclusive way of defining community, including all the life and natural forms around us and extending beyond our county borders to encircle every living being that shares our planet. We bring people and wildlife together in a variety of settings, including retreats, story sharing, film, writings, and workshops. Through these interactions, visitors are offered a vision of what is possible—a first step toward true reconnection.
Are you open to the public?
We are open by appointment only for limited seasonal tours (June 1 – October 7) or scheduled retreats. (Read our Guest Guidelines here.) While we recognize that connecting deeply with wildlife is an important part of achieving our mission, our animals’ safety and quality of life are our greatest concern. To find a balance between these goals, we limit the number of visits per year to minimize the animals’ exposure to the public. However, we offer public talks, online forums, and many other forms of outreach.
Can I volunteer at Earthfire?
Yes. There are two types of volunteer opportunities available: in the office and on the property. We may look for organizational or software help in the office. If you are interested in working outside and around the animals, an additional approval process is required. Because we work closely with wild animals, serious responsibility, follow through, and commitment are necessary.
How long has Earthfire been running?
Our current 40-acre property was purchased in 1998, and we began as a non-profit in 2000. We have had our license to house domesticated wildlife since 1998 and received our rehabilitation license in 2017. We’re also permitted to breed select animals, a decision that is rarely made and never for the sale of animals.
Does Earthfire use animals for filmmaking?
The property on which Earthfire Institute is located houses two separate businesses. The first is Earthfire Institute, a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center. The second is The Wild Bunch Ranch, a for-profit animal training company which leases land for its business. The Wild Bunch Ranch offers contract consultant services to assist Earthfire Institute in the safe handling of animals and trains Earthfire employees in animal handling as well. The Wild Bunch Ranch operates separately as a production company. On rare occasions Earthfire animals may be trained and employed for educational films for companies, such as National Geographic and the BBC, under the supervision of The Wild Bunch Ranch.
How did the animals at Earthfire come to you?
Our animals come to us from a wide variety of situations—almost any you can think of. Some were orphaned and too bonded to the humans who found them to be released. Some came from fur farms or roadside zoos; others from circuses, as illegal pets, or irresponsible owners. In addition, as The Wild Bunch Ranch winds down its operations, Earthfire has taken over the care and ownership of most of their animals.
Are there state or federal agencies that inspect your licensure and facility standards?
Yes, we undergo on-the-spot inspections by USDA agents and State of Idaho Department of Fish & Game officers. Licenses and certifications are reviewed annually or every three years.
Is Earthfire a licensed wildlife rehabilitator?
What is Earthfire's role as a wildlife rehabilitator?
Earthfire’s wildlife rehabilitation efforts consist of taking in injured and orphaned wildlife of Idaho with the express purpose of rehabilitating them for release back to the wild. Occasionally, we get permission to bring an animal across state lines. Earthfire works hand in hand with local veterinarians to assess the needs and best course of action for each animal. The rehabilitation of wildlife is regulated by Idaho Fish & Game, and animals not permitted are listed below. Per Idaho regulations, any wild animal brought in for rehabilitation must either be rehabilitated and released within 6 months or euthanized if unable to be released, unless conditions enable us to apply for an extension. For this reason, it is extremely important that animals are not handled by or accustomed to humans any more than necessary, as prolonged human contact makes release more difficult.
Where do your rehabilitation animals come from?
Animals brought to us for rehabilitation come to us through various avenues including private individuals and Fish & Game. The need is great but varies throughout the year and season.
Does Earthfire release all of the animals that come in?
No. We are able to release most of the animals that are brought to us for rehabilitation, but only the ones that have a chance at a full, self-sufficient life in the wild. Earthfire works hand in hand with local vets to assess the needs and best course of action for each animal.
What animals can Earthfire NOT take in for rehabilitation?
The animals we cannot take in without special permission from Idaho Fish and Game are:
- Mountain lions
- Grizzly bears
- Black bears
- Wild cervids (mule deer, elk, white-tailed deer, moose)
- Wild bovids (mountain goat, bighorn sheep)
- Wild antilocaprids (pronghorn)
If you find an animal on this list, please call Idaho Fish and Game at 208-525-7290.
We also cannot take any migratory birds, such as water fowl, crows,ravens, songbirds, etc., without Federal permission.
* If you find a raptor that you believe needs help, please contact Teton Raptor Center’s Injured Raptor Hotline at 307-203-2551 or visit their website.
What should I do if I find an animal I believe needs help?
Please see our rehabilitation page and read it thoroughly before proceeding.