A Message from the Think Wild Board

Dear Wildlife Friends,

Thank you all for your enduring support of Think Wild in 2019. Because of your help, we spent 75 hours providing educational programs to over 500 students in Central Oregon on topics ranging from pollinator gardens to native bird migration. We welcomed over 1,000 attendees to 15 events for fundraising, conservation outreach and community engagement. And thanks to generous donations of time, funds and equipment, we finished the construction of the Think Wild Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center.

But we are just getting started. With the start of 2020, are excited to announce that Think Wild welcomed a new Executive Director, Sally Compton, to our team. Sally will lead Think Wild into its next phase of the wildlife hospital opening this year, as well as operations, community outreach, education, conservation, and key relationship and partnership initiatives.

Sally joins Think Wild with previous experience from the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Her diverse background in wildlife biology, conservation outreach and communications and marketing will guide Think Wild's growth as a much-needed resource for wildlife education, conservation and rehabilitation/rescue in Central Oregon.

Please join us in welcoming Sally in her new role as Executive Director.  If you have questions or comments as we plan for the coming opening of our wildlife hospital, please let us know. We remain committed to our mission to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect wildlife, and we look forward to this exciting new year with our community, friends and partners by our side.

- With kind regards, the Think Wild Board

Think Wild prepares to start taking in creatures at its rehab facility
By Jim Anderson, The Source Weekly

On a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in July, the brand-new wildlife rehabilitation facility, Think Wild, east of Bend, created a traffic jam with its open house. A lot of people from Bend, Tumalo, LaPine, Sisters and Redmond came out to check out what Think Wild was all about.
So, here's the skinny. The facility once housed another wildlife rehab facility that went belly-up. Think Wild is an entirely new organization, sort of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. It has a board of directors made up of local people who have diverse professional backgrounds and experiences...
Click here to read more

Bend, Ore. - After two years of planning, local wildlife conservation and education nonprofit Think Wild is starting construction on its Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center in Bend, Oregon. The organization expects the new facility to care for up to 250 patients (mammals, waterfowl and raptors) from around Central and Eastern Oregon in its first year....
Click to view KTVZ New's coverage  March 21, 2019

Local  students learn about the importance of wildlife corridors
by Jim Anderson, The Source Weekly
Bend, Ore. -  I get invited to lots of places to speak, but my favorite locations are schools. The bright young minds of kids who ask great questions keep me young, despite my 91 years. A recent Monday morning, found me in the classroom of Anne-Marie Eklund at Cascades Academy in Tumalo. We were joined by Michelle van Hilten, program administrator of Think Wild. The topic of discussion: Human/wildlife interaction—Think Wild's primary area of interest......
Click here to read more. November 29, 2018

by Peter Madsen, The Bend Bulletin

Bend, Ore. - Since age 4, Payton Johnston has been devoted to wildlife rescue.Her compassion started when her mother, Amanda Johnston, taught her to care for birds that flew into their home’s windows in La Pine.  Now 12, Payton not only helps her mother with wildlife rescues, including animals entangled in fences and struck by cars, but she also writes regular preventive blog posts on the website of Think Wild, a nonprofit wildlife rescue center opening in spring 2019....
Click here to read more. September 28, 2018


Bend, Ore. - With much excitement, Think Wild welcomes Michelle van Hilten as its first full-time staff person to execute on the organization's mission and strategic objectives to educate Central Oregon citizens on the prevention of wildlife conflicts and the conservation of wildlife habitats.  August 8, 2018

Bend, Ore. - After a 4 month review and petition process with Deschutes County, Think Wild has received notice of the County's decision to grant a conditional use permit for 62410 Erickson Road to operate as a wildlife rescue & rehabilitation facility in a MUA-10 zone.  July 2, 2018

Long time volunteer and serious wildlife lover and hero, 11 year old Payton J. has started sharing monthly wildlife tips and advice for young and old.  May 15, 2018

Bend, Ore. - Leaders of Think Wild, a non-profit organization providing wildlife education and Wildlife Hotline services in Central Oregon, recently announced they have received a $325,000 funding commitment toward building a native wildlife hospital and full-time Wildlife Hotline and education in Bend. The lead gift comes from the Otter Cove Foundation, through a local resident who prefers to remain anonymous.

The lead gift from the Otter Cover Foundation also comes with a challenge to raise an additional $325,000 in order to establish three years of operating support for the new facility. Friends and supporters of wildlife gathered Thursday to plan a Think Wild Founders Circle in order to meet the $325,000 challenge. The event was attended by a number of wildlife professionals who endorsed the Think Wild plan and expressed their support.

At the event, local wildlife rehabilitator Gary Landers spoke to the unique and needed role Think Wild can play in coordinating the region's response to injured wildlife. “Our goal for Central Oregon wildlife rehabilitation is to have a central place where 7 days a week, 365 days a year the public can call and get help for injured wildlife,” he said. “Think Wild can fill a need in our community by creating a hub and fostering the cooperative spirit of rehabilitators for the benefit of wildlife.”

Think Wild’s leaders are currently working on designing, planning and building a facility with space to coordinate care for injured and orphaned native birds and mammals in partnership with the regional area wildlife rehabilitators. Early plans for Think Wild also include a full-time Wildlife Hotline and community outreach campaign focused on conflict prevention, allowing Think Wild to fulfill its vision to provide a voice for Central Oregon’s native wildlife.

“We are excited by the opportunity given by our lead donor to pursue the goal of building a wildlife hospital,” said Reese Mercer, Think Wild Board Member who is leading formation of the Founders Circle. “We look forward to working with others to make this dream a reality.”

To learn more about Think Wild’s plans for the future visit You can also visit Think Wild on Facebook at, with additional information at Those interested in becoming part of the Think Wild Founder's Circle are encouraged to Think Wild at

Important News about Think Wild!
Think Wild is in early conversations about building a Wildlife Hospital and Education Center. This facility would provide:
- A wildlife hospital to treat and rehabilitate native birds and mammals
- A voice for native wildlife to strengthen advocacy for conservation
- An education center to teach and inspire the public to live respectfully with urban wildlife
Currently, there is no wildlife hospital providing treatment and rehabilitation of native species in Central Oregon. As the human population in Central Oregon continues to grow, conflict with wildlife will become more and more common.

As an enduring organization, Think Wild will create a central resource that provides a lasting and substantial impact on wildlife care. Think Wild will partner with local individual rehabbers to leverage expertise, coordinate resources, and fill gaps for wildlife care in perpetuity.

Contributors to the Think Wild Founders Circle have committed or pledged a minimum of $5,000 over three years, and we are making strong progress in reaching the threshold for being able to launch within the next 12 months. We look forward to sharing news about our fundraising progress on this page.