As members of Wildlife Watch know, wildlife rehabilitation is our primary focus. We are so grateful to the too few wildlife rehabilitators who give of their time and money to help wild animals.
Over the years of maintaining wildlife rehabilitation lists, we have been struck by the fact that each year results in ever increasing attrition.
Rehabbers are forced to stop practicing due to money and time resources, but also due to continuing regulations that put them at risk of violating state laws. That, and the harassment they suffer by the game agencies from which they obtain their permits.
While the bureaus of wildlife give permits (for which they charge), they give wildlife rehabbers no help to do their work. In fact, they do not allow wildlife rehabbers to charge for their services, yet they do allow "nuisance trappers," who usually use lethal means, to charge fees. If your permit is to capture and kill a wild animal, you will get support, but if it is to help a wild animal in distress, you will get no support and often the opposite.
Particularly appalling is when wildlife rehabilitation of an entire species is prohibited.
Ohio has stopped allowing the rehabilitation of deer, including fawns. This past 2015 baby season (spring and summer) was sad and disturbing when calls came in to Wildlife Watch from Ohio residents who had found fawns in distress, some next to dead mothers. To compound the public’s concern and anxiety, we had no choice but to tell them that fawn rehabilitation was not allowed in Ohio.
One of our Ohio friends believes, as we do - that deer matter. She, along with a medical doctor who feels similarly, introduced a bill called "Trooper's Law" to bring back deer rehabilitation to Ohio. Wildlife Watch was asked to write a letter on behalf of the law, and this is what we wrote:
November 16, 2015
Sent to all of the Honorables of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee
PLEASE SUPPORT TROOPER'S LAW AND ALLOW DEER REHABILITATION
Dear Representative Landis:
Wildlife Watch is a not for profit organization that operates one of the leading national hotlines for injured and orphaned wild animals. The hotline is referred to the public by police departments, towns, veterinarians, and SPCAs across the country.
This past spring and summer, scores of calls came from concerned OH citizens about orphaned deer, raccoons, and other species found in distress.
What struck me was that people from all walks of life, including hunters, were appalled to learn that OH did not allow the rehabilitation of fawns. When we asked if they would be willing to support an OH bill that would bring back fawn rehabilitation, they overwhelmingly said, "Yes." Wildlife rehabbers and the field of wildlife rehabilitation should be on a par with other community services, such as ambulance squads, fire departments, police departments, and community services that assist people in need. This is a public need, not only a wildlife need. By allowing deer rehabilitation, the public is not placed at risk, and the animals are not given the wrong help by well-meaning but unqualified individuals.
Wildlife Watch fully supports the efforts of Ohioans to bring wildlife rehabilitation back to OH. We have been hugely saddened and incapacitated by Ohio's policy of withholding care for deer and raccoons in need and look forward to a change of policy.
We hope that laws pass, or policies change, to favor those who are helping the public by helping them to save wild animals.
Anne Muller, President
Sadly, this law appears to be dying in committee (not moving). If you are in Ohio and agree with us, please let us hear from you. We will get you in touch with people who feel the same way and would like to push Trooper’s Law along, or reintroduce it in the new session. There's strength in numbers. If you are a wildlife rehabilitator in another state and are facing similar restrictions, we'd like to hear from you as well. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.