Staff and Volunteer Bios
Reg Westcott – Supervisor of Wildlife Care
MARS Wildlife Rescue Educational Outreach Worker, Reg Westcott, devotes a lot of time and energy to the wildlife in care, particularly the raptors. He is often found in the company of MARS’ Ambassador birds, as seen here with Brinley, the Great Horned owl.
Reg and the MARS Ambassadors are favourite visitors at events, drawing crowds wherever they go.
Warren Warrtig – RPBio, MARS President
Warren Warttig is a Registered Professional Biologist in BC (RPBio) specializing in habitat ecology.
In 1982 he graduated from the Forest Resources Management technology program at Selkirk College, and in 1990 earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from UBC.
He moved to Vancouver Island in 1995 to work for Interfor to design and manage large scale ecosystem restoration project in Clayoquot Sound and other coastal area restoration projects, including Campbell River. At that time Warren was also heavily involved in forestry planning, implementation, and monitoring under the Clayoquot Scientific Panel Recommendations – the first large scale Ecosystem Based Management in Canada. Later he began working collaboratively with the Coastal Information Team on the design and implementation of Ecosystem Based Management for the Great Bear Rainforest and is currently heavily involved in the planning and implementation of that project (including research, monitoring, and listed species management).
Warren is actively involved with many non-profit societies involved in environmental stewardship, and has been president of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society since 2004.
Sandy Fairfield – Education Coordinator
Nature, wildlife, sports and a thirst for knowledge have always been passions in Sandy’s life. She wanted a career as a veterinarian but struggled with math and science, so instead she trained as a physical education and geography teacher. After completing her training in London England, she taught for two years in England then relocated to Vancouver, BC where she taught high school physical education. She took time off work to have her family and during this hiatus completed a docent course at the Vancouver Aquarium, studying marine mammals and creatures of the Amazon Rainforest for a new exhibit. She specialized in the education department, touring adults and children around the facility, conducting research and monitoring the first sea otter pups born in captivity. Her return to work took her on a new path: she changed careers and worked for ten years as a “right hand” for medical doctor (general practitioner).
In the late 1990s, after her sons graduated from high school, Sandy and her husband moved to the Comox Valley and became “snow birds,” wintering in the warmth of the Coachella Valley in southern California. Not content to sit in the sun or play golf, Sandy looked for volunteer work and found “The Living Desert” in Palm Desert, at that time a fledgling conservation park preserving the natural desert plants and animals and providing residents and visitors an opportunity to understand and appreciate the fragile surrounding eco-system. She took the docent course, specializing in education, and made presentations at local elementary schools, as well as leading school and adult tours on the grounds. She also took an animal handler course which, to her “initial horror,” included tarantula spiders, snakes and lizards. This experience fostered in Sandy a deep appreciation for the intricacies of nature and how creatures can adapt to the harshest environmental conditions on the planet. When she and her husband stopped wintering in the south, Sandy again looked for something to fill the “wildlife void.” In 2002, she “landed at MARS.” During her initial meeting with MARS Wildlife Centre manager, Maj Birch, Sandy asked if she could join the MARS education department. Maj laughed and said: “you’re it!” So Sandy began to create MARS educational programs to take into the community. Since then, the education program has grown from display boards, mounted birds and feathers, to state of the art power point presentations and includes two live educational birds. In addition, both the Comox Valley Record and Campbell River Mirror newspapers run MARS Moments, the bi-weekly column Sandy writes to inform the average non-scientific reader and raise public awareness of the perils facing wildlife and the human impact on their ever shrinking habitat. Sandy has completed her basic wildlife rehabilitation certification and works as an animal care giver which she finds equally rewarding, providing her with insight into the behaviour and needs of individual species as well as great stories to tell the kids.
“This continues to be an amazing way to volunteer my time,” Sandy says. “It is hard work and often the outcomes are sad, but the awe and gratitude I feel when I’m able to release an owl or an eagle or even a tiny hummingbird – this is what MARS is all about.”
Norm Snihur – Wildlife Rescue Helicopter Pilot
Wildlife Rescue Volunteer Norm Snihur donates countless hours of helicopter transport time, flying wildlife to and from MARS and working with other rescue and rehabilitation centers in the Lower Mainland. Whenever there’s a patient in need of a quick ride, Norm can be counted on.
Steve Harding of Timberwolf Tree Services in Campbell River, assisted by his wife Lesley, has been instrumental in a number of rescues for MARS. An expert tree climber, he has replaced Bald Eagle fledglings in their nests, cut down tangled eagles from tall trees and built makeshift nests for baby owls. Always willing to come and help wildlife, Steve is an amazing volunteer! Featured below is one of Steve’s more spectacular rescues.