Dr. Donald L. Burton, OWC Founder, Executive Director and Friend Minimize
  It's with sad hearts we inform you that Dr. Donald L. Burton, Ohio Wildlife Center’s Founder, Chief Veterinarian and Executive Director, passed away on November 18 after a rapidly progressing battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) just two days after his 63rd birthday on November 16.  Visionary.  Wildlife Medic.  Public Servant. Ohio has lost one of its most committed and learned voices on native wildlife health and rehabilitation.  Don was surrounded in love by his wife Susan and their daughters, Stephanie Rogers (spouse Danny) and Kristen Burton. 

Founding Ohio Wildlife Center in 1984 with the mission of fostering awareness and appreciation of Ohio’s native wildlife, Don celebrated (and treated) all creatures wild.  Don built his life around his passion for investigating injury and disease in wildlife, nearly perfecting surgical repair of predatory birds like hawks and owls.  Never taking monetary compensation and with support from his private veterinary practice, Animal Care Unlimited, Don personally contributed tens of thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to document disease prevalence and environmental factors working against wildlife (and thereby humans!) in our region.

In direct response to his vision, Ohio Wildlife Center treats more than 5,000 animals from 140 different species of wildlife each year and is recognized as one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in the country.  The free hospital is also the only in Ohio with immediate and continual veterinary service.

Thirty years later, this well-established grassroots organization is equipped with emergency treatment services, education programming and SCRAM! Wildlife Control – a proactive, humane, hands-off approach to evicting animals as an alternative to trapping.  Central to Don’s main philosophy is that once a person learns the role a wild animal plays in their habitat, it becomes pretty tough to hate or harm that animal. Co-existence with the wildlife around us is really the heart of local conservation.

Don received his Bachelor of Science in Zoology, Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees all from The Ohio State University.  He also accumulated numerous accolades for his work.  Recently, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium dedicated the North America Eagle Habitat in his honor.  He’s also a Jefferson Award Semi-Finalist, an Alumni Citizenship Awardee from The Ohio State University’s Alumni Association and a recent Loveland Schools Distinguished Alum.  The list goes on.

Who can say it better than Don, himself, from a prepared speech in May when his wife Susan announced his ALS diagnosis at the Center’s annual WildNite fundraiser, “My work has not been for recognition.  It comes from a heartfelt passion to make a difference for wildlife - to give native wildlife a voice. Together we have achieved that and will continue to do so in the future. I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of our organization and in the passion and commitment of our staff and volunteers.”

Of course, Don’s voice for wildlife will never truly be lost.  His spirit, dedication and passion will live on in the armies of veterinarians, researchers, technicians, rehabilitators, volunteers and educators he mentored over the last four decades.  Don Burton’s legacy will continue every time someone he touched stops to listen for a bird, doubles back on the highway to check for an animal hit by a car or looks the other way when an industrious chipmunk takes up home under their front porch!

To find out more about Ohio Wildlife Center visit the Donald L. and Susan Burton Nature Center in Powell, or make a donation in Don’s honor through The Dr. Donald L. Burton Memorial Fund.

Our Mission
Ohio Wildlife Center is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of Ohio’s native wildlife through rehabilitation, education and wildlife health studies.

Ohio Wildlife Center, is a premier non-profit wildlife rehabilitation organization, and is nationally recognized as an authority on native Ohio wildlife issues.  Every year, almost 5,000 injured, orphaned or sick wild animals, representing over 140 different species, are admitted to our emergency facility.  Ohio Wildlife Center is also the only wildlife center in Ohio equipped with immediate and continual veterinary expertise and services.

Over 200 students, seniors and caring citizens actively participate in animal care, outreach programs, information line operation and fundraising events.

Since its founding in 1984 Ohio Wildlife Center has: 
  • Admitted over 70,000 wild animals in need into our wildlife hospital
  • Provided educational experiences to 1,000,000 children and adults
  • Responded to over 550,000 wildlife hotline calls
  • This has all been made possible by the donation of over 650,000 hours of dedicated volunteer work.