Today’s release was a little female house finch who’d been cat-attacked some two weeks ago and was kept in a cage by her rescuer until a few days ago. This was one more lucky bird in that the cat only ripped out some tail feathers, most of which were already back to near-full length by the time the finch made it to LWR. After a couple of days’ observation to ensure she was fully flighted, she was released.
When any wildlife is found injured or ill, simply placing it in a cage and proclaiming your love of nature is not only illegal, it belies the very love you profess to have for wildlife. If you truly care, YOU WILL SEEK HELP for that critter.
This has to be the least-favorite expression a rehabber hears on an all-too-frequent basis: “Oh, I just love animals (or some variation thereof); once I…” followed by some tale of illegal activity that usually didn’t end well for the wildlife.
That’s not loving wildlife; that’s ego, plain and simple: “Look at me and how wonderful I am…” Well, let me explain how wonderful you’re NOT: when someone with no experience or whose only experience has been with domestic animals—or even another rehabber who’s not licensed for the species—attempts to care for a species they know little or nothing about, IT IS THE WILDLIFE THAT SUFFERS. Do you understand that? IGNORANCE KILLS.
Oh, sure, sometimes—as in the case of this finch—the wildlife is lucky and healthy enough that well-meaning but ill-advised attempts to care for it do no lasting harm. The sad fact is, however, that the vast majority of the time, wildlife “cared for” by untrained individuals suffers from lack of proper diet, lack of proper housing, lack of proper environment and massive amounts of stress from being used as “show and tell” for all the friends and neighbors.
You’d be surprised how many people have no clue that possession of wildlife without permits is illegal; you’d be shocked at how many people know and just don’t care—and will point-blank tell anyone who will listen that they’re gonna continue to do whatever they damn well please and dare the authorities to do anything about it. The sad fact is, neither state nor federal authorities have the manpower to go after these scofflaws, so they do in fact get away with murder, quite literally.
How can you help? Spread the word that for people who truly care about wildlife, there is an option when they find injured, orphaned or ill wildlife: their local rehabber(s). For those who’ve made it clear they just don’t care, social pressure is a wonderful thing. Enlist others to help make them feel like the scum they are. When they’re no longer getting their egos stroked for their illegal activities, they’ll wise up and do the right thing—or maybe by that point there will be enough evidence that the authorities can make a case against them.
Okay, off the soapbox for now…
This adult male barred owl wasn’t as lucky as the finch. He was turned into an animal hospital several counties away after he crashed into a church window. Unfortunately, his neck was broken. He was still alive and could extend his wings and flex his and feet, but his head lolled at an ungodly angle and he had no control over it, and he couldn’t stand up, not even when propped in the corner of his box. On the off chance that the anti-inflammatory the vets at that clinic gave him might kick in and do some good, he was given an additional 24 hours after intake at LWR, but it wasn’t gonna happen. He was euthanized 24 hours after intake.