After spending more than a year wondering if a zoning complaint and lawsuit would end the mission of the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC), I am happy to tell you we are on the road to recovery thanks to a Special Use Permit approved by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Special thanks to the scores of donors who kept us afloat during this period, the government officials and community supporters who worked to save us, and the 200,000 plus people who signed the petition in our favor.
The zoning complaint was from one neighbor who moved next door to SWCC several years ago. Although he knew of the Center’s existence and mission prior to the purchase of his home, his zoning complaint resulted in SWCC being severely restricted in our ability to conduct wildlife educational tours and youth camps, which were central to our fundraising. The situation was dire, since we receive no state or federal funding.
Despite the fact that SWCC had been in existence at this location for 20 years prior to his arrival, he also sued us, saying the wildlife facility was a criminal nuisance due to the howling coyotes and wolves and dust from the dirt road. However, the public rallied to our cause. This support culminated on June 22nd when SWCC was granted the Special Use Permit, allowing us to continue to operate. A special thank you to Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri, as well as Larry Voyles and Jim Paxton from AZ Game and Fish Department, for their efforts in supporting us.
The work at SWCC is not easy, but it is rewarding. It is also expensive. The animals we care for don’t arrive with credit cards. We are now in the process of trying to recuperate from our financial losses. Based on the words and deeds of our supporters this past year, I am optimistic we will recover.
The animals that benefit from our Center may not be able to express their gratitude, but I can. Thanks to all who helped save this treasure in the desert. Please come visit soon!
Linda Searles, Founder & Executive Director
SWCC Has Been Approved For Our Special Use Permit!
Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors grants SUP to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
We are thrilled to report that we have received our SUP which allows us to once again be open to the public for tours! Please keep checking our calendar under the "Visit Us" tab for an updated schedule of educational tours and programs, as they become available. Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement!
The petition received over 200,000 signatures! Amazing! Check it out!
We Are Not Out Of the Woods Just Yet UPDATE 6.17.2016
Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors To Decide On Needed Permits For Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center June 22nd
We await a decision from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for approval on permits essential to our survival.
We are optimistic but it is not a done deal.
Approval would enable SWCC near Scottsdale to have tours and youth camps critical to its fundraising efforts.
SWCC is the last refuge for mountain lions, bears, wolves, porcupines, and other animals that populate Arizona.
The meeting will take place June 22nd at 9:30am at the Supervisors Auditorium at 205 West Jefferson. Please consider attending to show your support.
On May 5th, the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the Special Use Permit. The next step in this process will take place June 22.
The support we have received is on the verge of saving this labor of love which saves wildlife. Contributors, petition signers, elected leaders, and countless others have rallied to help us survive this crisis.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Board of Supervisors will approve our permits June 22 9:30am at the Supervisors Auditorium at 205 West Jefferson.
We would love to have our supporters be present at our next important hearing regarding our application for a SUP. It is set for 9:30am on June 22nd. Please stay tuned for more information with further details!
Good News! We're one step closer to receiving a Special Use Permit! Thank you to everyone for your support. We couldn't do this without you!
Board votes unanimously to give permit to SWCC. Thank you Maricopa County Board of Supervisors!
Fate Of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center Hinges On Permit Under Consideration By Maricopa County Planning And Zoning Commission
Petition In Support Of Center Near Scottsdale Has More Than 200,000 Signatures
(PHOENIX) Representatives of the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) will be attending a May 5th meeting of the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission that could decide the fate of the beloved center which rescues and cares for desert wildlife.
The Planning and Zoning meeting will be held May 5th at 9:30am at the Supervisors’ Auditorium located at 205 West Jefferson. Center Director Linda Searles will be at the meeting and available for interviews.
Supporters will also be in attendance including Jim Paxon, Special Assistant to the Director for Arizona Game and Fish, and a 33 year veteran of the US Forest Service. Paxon became familiar to millions of people as the face and voice of the firefighters who battled the Rodeo-Chediski Fire that ravaged Arizona’s northern forests in 2002.
Recently, one complaint to Maricopa County and a subsequent lawsuit by the same individual against the non-profit Center have threatened its ability to operate. A Special Use Permit from Maricopa County would enable the SWCC to conduct tours and youth camps that are essential to its financial survival. The first step in that process is approval from Maricopa County P and Z.
The complaints are from a neighbor who moved next door several years ago, notwithstanding the SWCC had been in existence for about 20 years prior to his arrival.
In late February, friends of the Center started an on-line petition via Care2 and that effort has thus far generated more than 200,000 online signatures in support around the globe, including 14,000 in Arizona.
Maricopa County Planning and Zoning is currently reviewing a Special Use Permit for the Center that would eliminate uncertainties caused by the lawsuit and previous complaints. Another vote on the permit is expected in June from the Board of Supervisors. On April 6th the Board received more than 160,000 printed petition signatures in support. At a news conference that followed Supervisor Steve Chucri said, “The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is critical to our community. Their mission to rescue native wild animals in an integral part of living in Arizona. I fully support the Special Use Permit and will continue to work with my colleagues on the Board and the planning department to complete this process as quickly as possible.”
The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) rescues native wild animals that have lost their homes to development, or are found injured, orphaned, or abandoned. When possible, the animals are rehabilitated and released — healthy and wild — back where they belong.
Those animals that could not survive in the wild can live out their lives at the Center’s accredited sanctuary. They don’t buy, breed, sell or trade animals, nor are the animals for hire or used for commercial purposes.
Media seeking interviews at the meeting or prior to can contact:
Thank you everyone for your continued support! The Petition Delivery to the Board of Supervisors went very well. We had many supporters who took the time to go down to downtown Phoenix to be a part of this, thank you!
SWCC is seeking a Special Use permit through Maricopa County in order to continue our onsite programs and tours. Supervisor Steve Chucri has said, "I fully support their request for a Special Use Permit and will continue to work with my colleagues on the Board and the planning department to complete this process as quickly as possible. The Special Use permit will be heard before the Maricopa County Planning and Zoning Commission on May 5th. After May 5th, it is scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors on June 8th."
If you are a neighbor and would like to write a letter of support with regards to our application for a special use permit, please click here. If you are not a neighbor, and would like to write a letter of support, please click here.
We will keep you updated through this process!
So many of you have reached out to us offering support by signing the petition, writing letters and spreading the word about Southwest Wildlife. We're so grateful! Now, if you're interested in being a part of the petition delivery to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on April 6th, please see the links below. Thank you!
For 22 years we have been fighting to save native wildlife. Today our very survival is at stake. A lone neighbor has filed complaints and a lawsuit in an effort to close our doors. The individual, who just moved to the area a few years ago, objects to dust from a dirt road and the occasional howling from wolves and coyotes at the sanctuary.
Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts reports in her recent article on the dispute, that this neighbor would “evict the wolves and coyotes – the ones who were there long before he moved in… And pave the road. You know, make it more like the city.” You can read the entire article here.
Sadly, the complaints from this single neighbor have cost us dearly by limiting our educational events and our ability to raise funds. As a result, the revenue from our educational programs is down 70% compared to last year.
Please help us by donating what you can. Just click here.
Southwest Wildlife is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and relies on donations to operate.. For more than two decades we have been rescuing and rehabilitating native mammals and returning them to the wild. Animals that cannot be returned to the wild have a home for life at our sanctuary.
Our neighbors have created a petition in support of Southwest Wildlife. Please take the time to read and sign it, by clicking here.
And please thank Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri for his support of our cause at [email protected]
Please consider donating to our center as we strive to preserve wildlife and struggle to stay open in the face of one neighbor’s devastating campaign against us.
Please also consider sending a Letter of Support for Southwest Wildlife to Darren V. Gérard, Deputy Director of the Maricopa County Planning & Development Department. We have created two sample letters for you to submit (of course you are free to edit it, and write your own). If you are a neighbor and wish to write a letter of support please click here. If you are not a neighbor to Southwest Wildlife, please click here.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
April 15, 2015 – AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
For more than two decades, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) has worked to rescue, rehabilitate, offer sanctuary to, and provide education about Arizona’s unique wildlife at our Rio Verde Foothills location. During that time, we have partnered with federal, state, county, and municipal agencies to rescue injured, displaced, and orphaned wildlife, assisted in wildlife law enforcement, and have been a valued partner in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.
These agencies, and the community, depend on SWCC to be here for our wildlife.
However, changes in Maricopa County zoning enforcement and complaints by one neighbor (despite the friendship and support of all our other neighbors!) mean SWCC will need to refocus its programs at our primary location.
We want our friends and supporters to know that SWCC will continue its important work, even if we may change the menu of activities at our main location or add satellite locations and programs.
If you want to support SWCC, you can help us in two important ways:
Stayed tuned to our social media and sign up to receive our Wildlife Weekly emails. You can be among the first to know of new SWCC developments, and how you can help.
Be patient as we work with our federal, state, and municipal partners to determine how we will continue our work protecting Arizona’s wildlife.
SWCC is extremely gratified by the overwhelming support we have received from so many friends and neighbors.
We thank all of our patrons, including our Rio Verde Foothills neighbors, who love and enjoy SWCC and all the wildlife here. We appreciate all your support.
Linda Searles, Director
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
June 22, 2015 – EXCITING UPDATE!
Southwest Wildlife is very excited to announce that we will be able to continue educating the public at our Nature Center in northeast Scottsdale! We will be resuming programs June 27th with our Walk with Wildlife Tours and other programs but these will be on a very limited basis so please book early as they will fill fast.
Maricopa County has approved a temporary use permit which allows Southwest Wildlife to be open to visitors on certain days throughout the coming months. We are extremely grateful for the showering of support from our SWCC community and Rio Verde Foothills neighbors during this time of uncertainty.
Being able to share our Nature Center with others is very important to us—looking into the eyes of these animals truly does touch people in a way that is hard to describe and makes our educational wildlife programs unique and memorable. However, the number of days we will be open to the public will be fewer and our guests must pre-register.
Although the restrictions to the days on which we will be able to offer educational programs will significantly affect annual donations, we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to welcome the public to our Nature Center.
If you would like to attend one of our inspiring educational programs, please click on our Visit Us tab above, to go to our calendar page, where you can view the educational programs we will be hosting over the next several months.
Don’t miss your opportunity to visit the wildlife at our Nature Center! Remember, preregistration will be required, as space will be limited!