SW Conservation Center fighting to stay alive

Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 19:31:09-04

She calls it her life's work.

That's why Linda Searles won't go down without a fight.

The director of the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Centerand her supporters, along with a skunk and an owl, delivered three boxes of 190,000 signatures printed on paper to the Maricopa County Supervisors on Wednesday.

The controversy over the legality of the Scottsdale center started earlier this year when neighbor Seth Gortler sued SWCC over the noise. Gortler knew the center was there, but said he didn't know it would be so loud.

But Searles and her supporters said -- we were here first, almost two decades longer that Gortler. But they don't rely on that argument alone.  They said the proof of their worth is in their work; helping animals that can't help themselves. They are asking the board for a special use permit.

Supervisor Steve Chucri spoke out in clear support of the center at the meeting Wednesday saying though government agencies drop off animals at the center's doorstep, none offer to fund the facility that is currently helping to rehabilitate up to 300 creatures.

"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 board is expected to vote on a special use permit in May.