4/17/07

My Story - One Year Wait Unfair to Baby Animals

Today I am posting my story behind the wildlife rescue and why it is closed right now.

A quick update on the kittens: the 3 boys will go up for adoption today and the runt of the other litter is looking better!!! :)))

My Story - One Year Wait Unfair to Baby Animals

My mission in life has always been helping to protect and nurture animals injured or abandoned, regardless if they were wild, exotic, or domesticated. In fact, by the age of 5, I was already known as “Miss Dolittle”. Since that time, up to the present, I have been an active volunteer at many rescues and shelters in different parts of the world for more than 35 years.

In 2000 I moved to Stephenville, Texas. I learned of the lack of wildlife rehabilitators in the area and decided that I could fill that void.

I inquired about the legal regulations and learned that helping migratory birds required two permits, from both the State and Federal wildlife agencies.

I sent in the Federal Permit with the intention to get that one out of the way first and then fill out the application for the State Permit a short while later.

Baby Squirrels

The reason for this was that I still needed one more outside enclosure to pass the required State inspection necessary for the State permit. I learned later on that I had to apply simultaneously for both permits, so the application for the Federal Permit was put on hold.

Then the news came that we are going to be moving soon, which meant I would have to go through the entire wildlife application process again. I put the State Permit off as well as spending the money on the material for a new enclosure, expecting to be moving within 3 months. These 3 months turned into 3 years, this time due to paperwork delays by the Federal Government.

In the meantime, I was actively helping out at the local animal shelter on a regular basis. A licensed rehabber was there in the beginning to show me how things worked. Then the rehabber moved to another county and I continued to help out at the shelter. Over the next 3 years I established and registered a non-profit organization in Stephenville to help support the ever-growing wildlife care needs that were not covered by the limited resources of the local Humane Society.

While awaiting the Government paperwork, on which the move depended, to be finalized, I kept taking in animals, raising them, releasing them. I started the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Squirrel-Rescue, and Pets and Wildlife Forum Websites to share the information that I have learned. Everything went great. I was living my dream! I took on various online jobs that allowed me to stay home 24/7 and attend to the babies and sick animals.

To learn how other animal lovers handle similar situations, I joined an online community related to the subject. I had 5 pink (no fur yet) squirrel babies that had fallen out of a tree in a storm. Someone in the community contacted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who in return sent the Game Warden to me, who knocked on my door a few months ago in February because someone had complained that I was keeping squirrels without a permit. I received a citation and fine, which I paid the same week, believing that this was my punishment for breaking the law, which I admit. I did not follow the rules.

At that point I realized I would not be able to continue caring for wildlife until all the legalities were addressed, so I finished building the outside enclosure, filled out the State Permit application, and sent it in. A month later I received the following reply (excerpt):

"Thank you for your application for a wildlife rehabilitation permit. At this time, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is unable to process your wildlife rehabilitation application due to a wildlife rehabilitation violation dated February 15, 2007. Departmental policy is to wait a period of one year after the citation before reviewing a rehabilitation permit application.

I was shocked! Barred for a year in addition to the pretty hefty citation? For trying to save some innocent helpless babies? Where does the punishment fit the crime here? You can drive for 90 minutes into any direction before you can find another wildlife rehabilitator. What is the community supposed to do when they find a wild baby animal?

I am sure many of you reading this are nodding, because you found yourself in similar situations and have probably broken the law numerous times yourself without even knowing it!

Me

I believe that a law that cannot differentiate between somebody who endangers animals and somebody who is honestly trying to make a difference for the better, that that law can't be a good law and might need some revising!

I will keep you updated on my quest and hopefully we can make some changes. That's why I ask you to stay tuned, my fellow animal lovers, I might need your voices and support.

Contact: squirrels@rainbowwildlife.com

No comments: