The last two weekends home have been good. I've gotten a lot of firewood cut for our outdoor wood furnace, hopefully by this weekend I will have enough to take us through most of the winter. I hate cutting, splitting and stacking firewood but as we clear the lower pasture and hedgerows on our property it makes sense to utilize the wood instead of burning it in brush piles. I had two friends help me this past weekend and we got a lot done. I have several people that cut wood at our facility with a 50/50 agreement. They help cut up wood, they take 50% ... it is a win/win for all and anything is better than buying thousands of dollars in oil. I would rather use that money towards the non-stop construction going on at NY Wildlife Rescue Center.
Things have been relatively slow with new animals in need coming in. Besides a little mourning dove, some very little 'possums and two raccoons. Due to the fact that fewer animals are coming in, it has opened up some time for me to do paperwork and get the facility ready for winter. I meet a lot of great people as a Wildlife Rehabilitator. Most people do the right thing for the animals that they find. I would imagine that it is tough for people to "give up" the wild animals that they find because it is a natural tendency to want to keep them as pets. If you read my blogs, you know that we don't normally name wildlife and they are not pets and do not get treated like pets. Our job is to get them back into the wild, something that we are good at and take a lot of pride in.
I don't have a lot of regrets or many negative experiences with "Humans" doing what we do. It always amazes me how many people want to volunteer to help me, that send a check (when I know that things are tight for everyone) and drop off their surplus dog kennels, hoses, pails and livestock equipment. Last week I had a negative experience with a person that I would like to share and forget. Everyone has natural tendency to want to be liked, myself included, but if forced to do what is right by an animal or make a human happy -- I will always do what is right by the animal and will never violate the many conditions of my several licenses. I'm not saying that I know everything or that I am perfect but I will do what it takes to do what is right. I will not mention any of them by name, I'm not looking to make enemies, just vent about how foolish some people can be.
I had a man call me last weekend. He said that he had been illegally raising a raccoon and that it was very sick. I told him that there were not many people that took in Rabies Vector Species (such as coons, skunks and bats) but I was one of the people that was licensed. I also explained that we raise a lot of coons, do it right and we are even building a "new" RVS facility due to the huge demand for this type of animal rehabilitation. I explained that what he was doing was illegal but I was more concerned about the safety of his family. Raccoons carry rabies (fatal) and also carry a roundworm parasite that can be fatal and killed two people recently that came into contact with their feces. He agreed to bring me the Coon, which turned out to be two coons when he actually arrived (he wasn't sure that he was going to give me both).
The one sick Coon had a bad urinary track infection. It was a holiday (Columbus Day), I followed procedure and got the coons set up in a large enclosure. They settled in to a large hollow log with food and water. I put the sick coon on some antibotics and wished that he had been brought them to me sooner. The Coon died. Many of the animals that are brought to me die; I try not to focus on the ones that we lose, I try to focus on the hundreds that we save. Due to the rabies exposure to this family, I packaged up the coon for Rabies testing at Wadsworth Lab. I even called the family to let them know that the coon had not survived. Instead of a Thanks for trying.....
This is where the story gets ugly and bad. The man that had brought me the coons (he had been raising illegally) had called a "self proclaimed" wildlife expert, a pathologist, who did not know the details of this case, did not know me and has never been to our facility. Without a license (that I am aware of) to rehab RVS Species himself, he started second guessing what I was doing. He actually told this man (in open violation of the law) to bring him the coons (dead and alive) to him at his place of employment. The man went to our facility knowing that I was in my classroom at school. He planned on taking the animals he had surrendered to us two days prior.
One of the girls that works in our dog grooming shop at our farm, realized what was going on. She knew that I would never allow a living wild animal to be removed from our facility (without a license or a badge) by the general public. She called me at school and told me that there was a man at our facility that was threatening to cut padlocks off of the raccoon enclosure to take "his" coon back. I asked her to put this man on the phone. I told him that what he had done was illegal but that I had never reported him, I can't possibly call DEC Conservation Officers to report every single person that brings me wild animals ... DEC would have to keep men stationed at our facility. When the public brings me wild animals (when they find them) they are doing a good deed and are NOT violating the law. Keeping them in your house for 4 months is illegal. Threatening to break into a locked wildlife facility to steal an animal back is not going to happen nor be tolerated at NY Wildlife Rescue Center. I told this man to remove himself from our facility, that DEC Officers and the State Police would be called. I went out of my way to help him and his raccoons. He was given some really poor advice and now he will have to be accountable for his actions. It really bothers me and this guy owes me and my staff a apology.
I do not get paid for saving the hundreds of animals that I save every year. Last year I spent tens of thousands of dollars of my own money to make our facility one of the best in the Northeast. I do not take kindly to people endangering themselves (and the public) by threatening to cut padlocks off of the wild animal enclosures ... this man will be arrested immediately if he ever sets foot on our property again.
I hope that this man realizes that he has created the current drama and trouble. I have better things to do with my time. Now I plan on putting the whole incident behind me and getting back to work.