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The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center appointed its new executive director, Kathleen Mulcahy, just last week. (Photo credit: Jane Gill)

Last week the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays appointed Kathleen Mulcahy as its new executive director, a position the Sag Harbor resident and former mayor says, “is a bit of a dream job.”

With a diverse background, serving as both a local real estate broker and former mayor of the village in which she lives, Mulcahy is no stranger to environmental stewardship as she created the first environmental advisory committee in Sag Harbor’s history, according to a press release for the rescue center, and has extensive knowledge in nonprofit management, with experience at both Guild Hall and Fighting Chance.

While she notes the goal at the rescue center is always to rehabilitate and release, if possible, Mulcahy is excited to work on the long-term educational aspect of the rescue center’s ethos. In her new position, she hopes to start building a campaign to create an educational center at the Hampton Bays nonprofit, “so people can come to us and we can really use the facility as a gathering and learning space.” Part of this initiative is to create trading carts that can enable some animals to be mobile, allowing local students and participants in summer camps to get an up-close personal experience with an “on-loan” tenant of the rescue center.

Coming down the pike, Mulcahy’s immediate focus will be on the rescue center’s annual Mother’s Day Weekend plant sale (slated for May 10, 11 and 12), which this year will feature only indigenous and native plants, along with the Get Wild Gala set for August 2 at the Southampton Arts Center.

I’m so impressed by the passion I see exemplified by this team. It’s hard because it’s so easy to get emotionally attached to the animals.

Typical wildlife the rescue center deals with are native to Long Island, like squirrels, opossum, racoons, ducks, owls, swans, osprey, hawks, turkeys, foxes, rabbits and deer, though Mulcahy notes at the start of her new position there was a rhea (a large, flightless, ostrich-like bird native to South America) recently rescued from a private residence, cared for at the animal hospital and ultimately transported to a wild game farm.

Each year, nearly 2,000 animals are admitted. Presently, according to Mulcahy, there are 54 animal patients at the rescue center she now helms.

With a staff of about a dozen full-timers, plus a few volunteers, right now is a busy moment on the calendar, as most of the animals taken in at the center this time of year are babies. Between the challenges of maintaining the grounds and equipment used to contain and protect the wildlife, plus keeping the animals safe — from each other as well as from outside predators — the center, according to the executive director, is in a constant state of repairs.

“We’re always trying to ensure we have enough food and medicine to care for these animals,” she says. “I’m so impressed by the passion I see exemplified by this team. It’s hard, because it’s so easy to get emotionally attached to the animals.”

With all her experience, Mulcahy is certainly qualified for the position, but it’s her innate love for wildlife here on her beloved East End that really makes her the right fit.

Growing up, she spent weekends and summers in East Hampton and has “always had a fondness for cats and dogs, sure, but I’ve also always appreciated the beauty of the wild animals out here,” she says. “I’ve always found it fascinating, and I think we, as a species, have a duty to protect this wildlife. We have to better educate ourselves so we can coexist.”

As executive director, that will be her main objective.