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It's the Law, Part Three

Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012, at 9:18 AM

Wildlife laws are put into place to protect our native wild animals. Hunting and fishing laws exist to help control the wildlife population. Unfortunately, we have lost the natural balance that God intended. Wildlife habitats have been replaced with concrete. We have over-hunted the predators that would have kept the deer population in check.

Our Sunday school class (teens) is studying Genesis. We talked about God giving man oversight for all the creatures. We haven't done a very good job.

Wildlife protection laws exist to protect wild animals from people - even those who have good intentions and those who think there is no big deal in keeping a wild animal as a pet. I saw hundreds of cases just like this at Walden's Puddle. People who meant well and who just weren't thinking would call about the baby...whatever...they had been keeping. About how sick it was. About their children's distress. Some we could save and some we could not. I will share plenty of these stories in the future.

One of the best examples I have is - a call from TWRA asking if we could provide care and possible return to the wild for two bobcat kittens after a court case. (Thank you to those who comment, reminding me of this). A woman had shot and killed an adult female bobcat during baby season. She had found the kits, and decided they were sooooo cute, and would make good pets because she could domesticate them. She allowed them to sleep in her bed at night.

There is NO taming of wild animals. I don't care how friendly they appear to be - you can never, ever trust them not to bite!

Someone told the authorities and the kits were seized, and the woman was facing several charges. Among these were unlawful killing of an adult bobcat during the spring season and illegal harboring of native Tennessee wildlife.

After an in-depth assessment we determined that these kits would never be able to fend for themselves and would pose a threat to people by seeking food. The choices were to euthanize them or find an acceptable placement for them. Fortunately we had a great network, and were able to place the kits with the Columbus Zoo in Ohio. They made the rounds with Jack Hanna and were used to teach people why it is not a good idea to keep wild animals as pets.

There is a reason these animals are classified as WILDlife.

This the end of my soapbox on wildlife laws!!!

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Tim - it can be a crushing burden to know that you tried to save an animal and discover your "care" caused its demise. It can become entangled with other grief issues that people have.

For me, it was rarely ever that one case caused me to grieve - Sad cases accumulated over time, and periodically, I would have a wailing, sobbing breakdown. A lot of my grief was also because so many people were affected, especially children.

-- Posted by wildwoman on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 4:43 PM

ABSOLUTELY do try to provide interim care!!! There is nothing wrong with this, and TWRA allows it as long as you are making a reasonable effort to get the creature to a licensed rehabilitator.

There are a few good rules to follow:

1. First, do no harm! Obviously the best thing is to try to reunite with the mom.

2. Take care not to get bitten! Use gloves, towels, etc.

3. Never feed an animal that is cold to the touch. They are not able to digest food when the body temperature is not normal. Warm the animal by wrapping it in a towel, place into a small box, place the box half-on, half-off a heating pad so that if it gets warm it can crawl away.

4. With mammals (mostly here I am talking about babies or juveniles) try some water with an eyedropper or needle-less syringe. Nutrition is not as important as dehydration, as least for a while.

5. Never attempt to give baby birds water! They are not capable of drinking thin liquids, and this can cause aspiration pnuemonia.

It is hard to tackle nutrition here - what I plan to do in the spring is write about emergency nutrition for each animal species during the various baby seasons. Each animal is so different, and feeding a "bad" food is often worse than no food at all, at least on an emergency basis.

I definitely want people to try to keep the animals alive - I just don't like it when someone goes past that point - because the end results are often not good. I have dealt with so many sad children and adults and the heartbreak can be tremendous.

-- Posted by wildwoman on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 4:37 PM

Some are just not going to make it. We had one little one that we did not even know what it was, just found it in the grass near a tree so we guessed it might be a squirrel, but ..... we never had the chance to find out.

Vicky, would it be reasonable to at least try to care for something until we get in touch with Wildlife resources, or better to do nothing?

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:36 AM

This has been a very informative series Vicky. I once tried to "save" a baby rabbit when I was very young. My inexperience and lack of knowledge in these matters did sadly lead to the rabbit's demise.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 1:28 AM

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Vicky Carder is a Shelbyville native. In 1991 she founded Walden's Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. There she served as Executive Director for more than 12 years. The Center is the largest wildlife hospital in Middle Tennessee. She has published in wildlife national and international journals. Now she wants to share her knowledge of native wildlife and some of the experiences she had while working with wildlife.
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