MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – A wildlife refuge is starting the New Year rebuilding after weather wreaked havoc on the site.
Trails End Wildlife Refuge in Martinsville says rain and wind caused a large poplar tree to fall on enclosures. The non-profit's vice president, Elizabeth Duncan, said they discovered the destruction New Year's Day while completing chores.
"Can't fool mother nature," she said. "It's pretty devastating."
The refuge works to rehabilitate injured animals and animals coming from bad situations, like hoarding. They include chickens, hawks, owls, deer, donkeys, pigs, ducks, possums and wolf hybrids.
Duncan said the tree fell on a chicken coop and an enclosure for foxes. It killed 13 animals and left five others missing.
"We have it temporarily fixed until we can get some donations," she said.
Duncan said it's the third time a tree has fallen and caused major damage. More trees are leaning, and with rain in the forecast, Duncan said they're concerned.
"It slows everything down this time of year. Grants are hard to get and hard to find so for emergency situations like this, we're really not that prepared," she said.
They've temporarily fixed the enclosures, but Duncan estimates it will cost about $5,000 to fix the damage and address the remaining trees of concern.
"You're trying to do the best for them and give them a safe place until time for their release, or you give them a safe place to live coming from a bad situation, and having something this devastating happen. And any loss of life to us is detrimental,” she said.
The refuge is accepting donations.