Each spring, wildlife officers, park officials and veterinarians receive calls from people who have “rescued” a wild animal from death or injury. While living in the wild can be perilous, many concerns are misplaced and removing animals from their natural habitat can be illegal.
Typical scenarios can be categorized by either feathers or fur.
Raccoons, squirrels, opossums and skunks raise their young in dens and burrows in close proximity to humans. As they grow, the young begin following their parents on feeding forays or wander out on individual exploratory missions.
They’re seldom orphaned or lost, but are learning the ropes of living on their own. Removing them damages their chances for survival, steals them from their parents, and exposes you and your pets to health-threatening parasites and diseases.
If you’re having issues with furbearers, the Division of Wildlife has a list of licensed removal experts who can help. Call 419-424-5000 for information.
Deer fawns are found along trails, fields and woodlots. They appear helpless and scared, begging for a helping hand. But they aren’t lost, their mothers are never far away, and their fear is of you. Fawns should never be removed from where they’re found. If moved, return them to the area immediately. Possession is illegal and often results in the animal being euthanized.
Birds are found blown from their nests during spring storms or spotted hopping on the ground, too young to fly. During this interim period, they are susceptible to predation, resulting in natural losses.
The Division of Wildlife offers this advice:
• Think before you act. Check for nests before cutting trees or clearing brush and, when possible, delay work until autumn.
• Leave animals in the wild. If a nest is disturbed, replace young and nest material as close to the original location as possible. It’s a myth that parents won’t tend to them because of human scent.
• Keep pets under control so they don’t raid nests, and don’t forget to keep those pets inoculated against parasites and diseases.
• Educate children to respect wildlife, emphasizing wild animals shouldn’t be handled.
• Contact wildlife officials before taking action. Call 1-800-WILDLIFE.
Finally, don’t expect to keep wild animals that you’ve recovered. They’re not pets and may only be raised by licensed rehabilitators.
Along the way
Four retired Division of Wildlife district managers, including John Daugherty, who served District 2 in Findlay, have penned a warning for anyone who enjoys the benefits of professional wildlife management and enforcement.
“The financial situation within the Ohio Division of Wildlife is at a critical point, and without your help the consequences of doing nothing could spell disaster for many of the great youth programs, outdoor skills events, fishing and hunting opportunities, and even conservation club grants could all be in jeopardy.
“The Division of Wildlife has not had a hunting or fishing license increase in 14 years, the longest in history. That’s why there are 25 wildlife officers missing from the field. That’s why wildlife habitat is not being managed for hunting quality.
“Lack of money is why fish stocking is decreasing. It’s why shooting ranges are falling into disrepair and not being developed. The bottom line is that the Division of Wildlife is doing 2017 work with 2004 money, and it shows.
“Director James Zehringer has silenced the employees of the Division of Wildlife and will not let them tell you how dire the financial future is for the programs that you and I cherish.
“Their goal is to weaken the Division through the lack of personnel and resources. And it’s working.
“Because the Division cannot afford to replace retiring officers, the Department will be able to use Park Rangers, now called ‘Natural Resources Officers,’ which will enable them to use your hunting and fishing license dollars to pay for officers not employed by the Division.
“The County Wildlife Officer … has served the public well since 1886, and is one of the Department’s targets for hybridization into a Departmental Officer, which would dilute the professionalism, wildlife expertise, and effectiveness to serve Ohio’s sportsmen and women.
“The agenda is clearly to drain the Division of Wildlife of its funds, and take control of your license dollars and federal Pittman-Robertson funds that come from firearms and ammunition purchases.
“This can all be prevented if the Ohio Senate will approve a modest increase in resident hunting and fishing fees. The small increases will provide the Division with the funds to replace wildlife officers, and get back to providing quality opportunities.”
Retired District Managers: Steve Jacks — District 1, Columbus; John Daugherty — District 2, Findlay; Jeff Herrick — District 3, Akron; Jim Marshall — District 4, Athens.
These professionals are asking individuals and conservation and sportsman’s clubs to send letters and emails to your state senators and state representatives to encourage their support of the Division of Wildlife.
It’s important to act immediately. To find your state senator, as well as a preformulated letter, visit: www.sportsmensalliance.org/take-action/#/43.
To contact Sen. Cliff Hite — Phone: 614-466-8150. Email: www.ohiosenate.gov/hite/contact.
Copy letters of support to: Gov. John Kasich, Riffe Center, 30th floor, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215-6117.
“History shows that Americans believe in doing the right thing.” — Michael Franti
Step outside
• Today: Youth Day activities, 9 a.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186.
• Tomorrow: 50-bird trap shoot, 11 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• July 8: Basic archery instructor training, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Division of Wildlife District Two office, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. Preregistration is required by July 6 and those interested should visit www.naspbai.org to sign up for the course. For more information, contact the Division of Wildlife at 419-424-5000.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.