Jay Holcomb: 1951 – 2014
On June 10th the wildlife rehabilitation community said farewell to Jay Holcomb, executive director of International Bird Rescue.
The first evidence of Jay and IWRC getting together is in March 1974 Board meeting minutes, noting his attendance at that meeting, but not his status. Jay’s association with the organization started before IWRC was even incorporated (this happened later in 1974). Its not clear from the records when Jay officially came on the board, but he was there by 1977 and spent at least 12 years on the board. Jay was president from 1981 to 1983 and again from 1988 to 1991.
Jay’s first tenure as president began auspiciously with the lovely editorial you see below, reprinted from Volume 5(3) of the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation and featured again in the soon to be published Volume 34(2). Jay maintained his strong relationship with IWRC through four decades and countless changes to the field. Most recently he stepped in to participate in the 2011 Symposium when the scheduled International Bird Rescue speaker was called out to the Rena Spill in New Zealand.
Jay’s influence was felt far and wide; demonstrated by the diverse award acknowledgements he received, from NWRA’s lifetime achievement award in 1996 to John Muir Conservationist of the Year and Oceana’s Ocean Hero in 2010.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Jay Holcomb Memorial Fund at International Bird Rescue. IWRC extends condolences to Jay’s family, colleagues, and the entire wildlife rehabilitation community.
Excerpt from Jay’s 1982 President’s Message
As president of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Council*, I feel a need to share some of my thoughts on the work that we are all involved in. I have been racking my brain to find the words of wisdom I wanted to say. Instead, I should have been searching my heart, for it is love that connects me with the animals. With this in mind, I want to share these thoughts with you.
One thing all rehabers have in common is a great love and compassion for the wild creatures of the earth. This is why we work incredible hours for little or no money, suffer from physical, emotional, and mental burn-out and sacrifice our personal relationships. It is our constant energy that has nurtured the field of wildlife rehabilitation to the point of becoming a respected and acknowledged profession and a necessary service in our communities.
Wildlife rehabilitation is a pioneering field. We are one of the first groups of people giving back to the earth what many have selfishly taken for years. With every creature we release to the sky or forest, we return a little of what we’ve been blessed with: the earth with all the trimmings.
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Council was formed by a group of people who believe in the freedom for all creatures. We owe it to the animals in our care to investigate new ideas and innovative rehabilitation techniques. Sharing is the only way to maintain excellence and build a strong foundation of knowledge.
The full letter can be found in the archived Volume 5(3) and in the upcoming Volume 34(2).
*At the time this was written, IWRC was still known as the Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.
For additional in memoriams visit: