Wildlife Rehabilitators Unite!
Game Agencies “permit” wildlife rehabilitators, those noble souls, to
give aid and comfort to distressed animals at their own expense.
Rehabbers must use a veterinarian, although they themselves may have
more expertise than a veterinarian, and they must pay the veterinary
bill themselves. Game agencies explicitly state that they will not pay a
penny for “distressed wildlife.” Furthermore, rehabbers are prohibited
from charging for their services, no matter how costly. To rub salt into
the would, game agencies admonish rehabbers not to get emotionally close
to the animals and in some states to release animals prior to hunting
season or euthanized them.
Ann Ilkiw, a rehabber, writes:
“In the spring and summer, with the influx of injured and orphaned
wildlife, we become increasingly isolated from our families and friends.
Relationships become strained and are even terminated over the enormity
of the task of waking up to feed every couple of hours, or accepting
injured animals throughout the night. The everyday exposure to death and
loss is more than most people experience in a lifetime. Then there is
the ridicule of ‘normal’ people to be endured. No matter how tired,
burnt out or heartbroken we become, we understand that it is the animals
that are the most seriously affected. We rehabbers will survive. How do
you say ‘no’ to a crying baby, a dying non-human baby? How do you say
‘no’ to a crying 17 year old boy with a maggot covered baby squirrel, a
boy who hasn’t trusted adults or been moved by anything or anyone in
years. Even his parents are amazed and ask, ‘Can you save it?’ We tried,
he and I. At least we provided a measure of dignity in death. They know.
We wildlife rehabilitators are woefully undertrained. We pass a written
test with no hands-on training and are thrust into a world of
desperation. How many are lost to our ignorance. And it doesn’t have to
be so! With all the funds collected from hunting licenses, and from
mandatory seminars that we have to pay for, a real six week course could
be offered, at the successful completion of which, a diploma, which
meant more than a one-way ticket to misery and despair, could be
granted. We three: the public, the wildlife rehabilitators, and the
wildlife could for once find hope. Every county should have an
information and emergency center that cares for its wildlife citizens,
staffed by well-trained, paid individuals.”
C.A.S.H. wants federal and state game agencies to be accountable for
the humane treatment of “distressed wildlife.” We believe that injured
and orphaned wildlife are often the result of the agencies’ other
programs. We believe that conservation funds should provide
rehabilitators with financial relief for their contributions to the
public and to conservation efforts. As recipients of such funds, they
would certainly be among the more legitimate. If you agree, contact Ann
Ilkiw about doing something: Ann Ilkiw c/o C.A.S.H., PO Box 44, Tomkins
Cove, NY 10986.