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Wildlife Center Eyes Bigger Digs

By next fall, Blue Mountain Wildlife aims to complete a $1 million expansion to create space for more educational programs and in-house animal rehabilitation.

The project would require razing and replacing its one-room clinic with a larger facility equipped with a classroom, more work and storage space. The nonprofit already has collected $90,000 in donations to revamp its four-acre bird refuge on Appaloosa Drive in Pendleton.

BMW treats an average of 600 predatory birds a year in a 200-square-foot room, cramped with cages and medical supplies.

Executive director Lynn Tompkins and intern Alex Gadaire bumped shoulders as they huddled over one of those patients Monday.

The merlin, a type of falcon, was found perched on a fence in Hermiston unable to open its eyes. Using a cotton swab, Tompkins opened them with sturdy finesse, revealing swollen tissue supporting sunken eyeballs.

Tompkins and her interns can run blood tests, mend small wounds and anesthetize their feathery patients in the crowded room.

“We have the equipment, it’s just that it’s shoved up in all different types of corners,” said Bob Tompkins, Lynn’s husband.

New facilities would have a separate X-ray room and a surgery room equipped for a veterinarian to perform major operations. BMW currently has to transport its rescues to Pendleton Veterinary Clinic for those services.

The expansion would also allow the nonprofit to extend its residential internship program year-round. From April to October, BMW provides six to eight total interns a $50 weekly stipend and free housing in a two-person trailer on the refuge. The program attracts college students from across the U.S.

The new center would include dormitories for four interns and a two-bedroom living space for the Tompkins. The Tompkins currently live in the same double-wide trailer that houses the recovery center.

The renovation would also allow the nonprofit to offer more educational opportunities for local schools, which often visit BMW. Adding an indoor classroom, outdoor amphitheater and shaded demonstration area would allow BMW to host more field trips and possibly start a summer day camp.

BMW is funded by donations and grants. To make a donation, visit

Contact Chris Rizer at or 541-966-0836.

This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.

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