Man runs an animal sanctuary from his Woodbine home

October 13, 1995|By JACKIE POWDER | JACKIE POWDER,SUN STAFF

He may not talk to the animals, but Steve Gahm could be called the Dr. Doolittle of Woodbine.

On his 10-acre property off of Woodbine Road, Mr. Gahm tends to injured owls, deer and other wildlife as well as caring for his menagerie, which includes about 40 geese, a handful of cats and dogs, ferrets, turkeys, parakeets and fish.

"I like animals," said Mr. Gahm, who grew up in the suburbs with the standard cats and dogs.

After moving to the more rural setting of Woodbine 13 years ago, Mr. Gahm had the space to indulge his love of animals.

His hobby grew over the years and, in 1992, Mr. Gahm received state and federal permits to treat injured animals on his property.

Now the log cabin home he built for his family sits in the middle of a small wildlife sanctuary.

Mr. Gahm gets many referrals from nearby Piney Run Park and the county's humane society.

Right now, the sanctuary has few patients, but at times it's a full house.

"Sometimes I run out of places to put them, but I hate to turn anything away," Mr. Gahm said.

Recovering nicely at the sanctuary are two vultures, which probably were injured by cars and a goose that had a damaged wing.

"Somebody saw it on a pond and said it couldn't fly, so they brought it to me," Mr. Gahm said.

Once Mr. Gahm has helped an injured animal recover, he eases it back into the wild.

He recently cared for a fawn that was hit by a car and suffered a sprain. Mr. Gahm raised the animal in his basement and then moved him to the pens outside.

"It got to the point where you could tell he was ready to go," he said. "At first he followed me everywhere, but eventually he followed me into the woods and I haven't seen him since."

Mr. Gahm puts recovering birds in a flight cage so they can regain the use of their wings before being released. He also leaves food out for them after letting them go. "They're so used to being fed, they forget for a time how to hunt," he said.

Mr. Gahm is not paid for his work and cannot accept cash donations because his operation does not have tax-exempt status as a private, nonprofit organization. He estimates that he spends between $200 and $300 a month maintaining the sanctuary.

His job with a Towson security firm leaves him time in the mornings and afternoons to devote to his animal sanctuary.

Despite the hard work and no pay, Mr. Gahm is committed to caring for the injured animals.

"When you have one of these birds, maybe for a month, and you take that bird out and he sits on your hand and he goes -- it's fun to watch," he said.

To donate feed or other materials for the sanctuary, call (410) 781-6669.

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