Hey, Alabama: Making Animal Rehab Illegal Will Just Drive it Underground

Wildlife lovers are objecting to an announcement that rehabilitators will no longer be allowed to take in injured or orphaned foxes, skunks, bats, coyotes, opossums, raccoons or wild pigs in Alabama.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said that it will no longer be issuing permits for these species and that as of September 1 anyone who finds an injured or orphaned animal should either leave them where they are or bring them somewhere to be immediately euthanized. Rehabilitators have been instructed to turn people away or take in animals and destroy them.

According to biologist Ray Metzler, assistant chief of wildlife for theagency,”Basically there is no biological reason to rehabilitate these animals.”

A followup letter from the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) further explains:

WFF firmly believes that rehabilitation of most wildlife species in Alabama is not warranted unless it is threatened, endangered or is a species of special concern. Statewide populations of most animals are at levels that do not justify rehabilitation of individual animals. Injured and/or orphaned animals are more susceptible to predators. These injured/orphaned animals are an integral part of the natural food chain. Disrupting the food chain may have unintended consequences such as causing additional mortality of healthy animals in the system.

There may not be a biological reason to save these creatures, but there’s certainly a moral one. Especially for those who end up needing help because of human activities, such as a mother being accidentally hit by a car, or intentionally killed, or an infant being injured by a domestic pet. As for the food chain argument, the same could be used for hunting and trapping in the state, both of which are perfectly legal.

Needless to say, the move to criminalize compassion has sparked outrage from both the public and rehabilitators who work with these species.

“This issue is a personal one for us. This is very personal, Shamballa Wildlife Rescue owner John Russ said in an interview with WAAY-TV.

“If I have to make a choice between euthanizing that baby and raising that baby to maturity, yes ma’am, I’m going to take it in. If they want to take me to jail, then that’s fine too. But a man’s got to live with himself, I have to sleep with myself at nighttime. And I’m not going to go to bed at night knowing that I killed an innocent animal, and I don’t know how anybody could do that,” he added.

For wildlife lovers, even a quick look at the faces of those he and his wife April have saved or are currently caring for make it easy to see why they do what they do, and why they will continue despite this new rule.

Others have said they’ll be leaving their volunteer positions, rather than follow the new rule, while still others think the move will drive rehab underground and make it harder for people to find help. Kim Robinson, a volunteer with North Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitators, told the AP she believes the change will only make matters worse because people will now try to care for animals themselves, instead of taking them to trained rehabilitators, which could also increase the risks for spreading diseases.

In some cases, human intervention can cause more harm than good when it involves animals who don’t really need assistance. However, for injured and orphaned animals who do need help and are found and taken in, rehabilitation offers them a second chance to live out their lives in the wild. Attempting to stop people from taking compassionate action to save lives and stop suffering isn’t just cold, it sends a terrible message about the way we should behave as stewards of the earth and its inhabitants.


Please sign and share the petition asking the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to overturn this decision.


Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven29 days ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordan1 years ago

Somebody should send them a copy of "The Status of Animals in the Christian Religion" by C. W. Hume, which talks about our duty of neighbourliness to other species. Saving wildlife isn't about their biological status but about being a good neighbour. You might as well say we shouldn't save individual humans because we're a very common species.

It's quite true, of course, that if you take in an animal who would otherwise die and be eaten, the predator who would have eaten it will either go hungry or kill something else but the world is a web we can't break out of, and if we are neighbourly it's natural to want to patch up animals which currently have no chance of survival, and let the healthy take their chance of being eaten on a more level playing field.

Mark Donner
Mark Donners2 years ago

And Barbara D. It was also declared "illegal" to house Jews since they were all being gathered up for the concentration camps. What are you, Barbara D. going to do about it when I and millions of others choose to rehabilitate a wild animal because these caring people have more ethics than all of your low IQ sadists calling themselves "officials"? I'm waiting to see the thugs you protect come snooping around a million of the more decent peoples' properties trying to enforce your Alabama "law" to put the animal in the hands of your murderers. Sadists and animal abusers and murderers..the criminals pretending to be "wildlife officials" and government "enforcers".. are the real threat to society who should be the ones rounded up and put in prison before they destroy what's left of civilization.

Mark Donner
Mark Donners2 years ago

I've been in Alabama.. never again.. disgusting redneck low IQ mentality prevails. You can be sure any "official" who has slezed his way into the government of hick state USA is some sort of criminal. Of course they would murder any wildlife they find. But this is not the only uneducated state of morons like this.. you can find this type and criminal mentality throughout Middlle America both North and South

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright2 years ago

"According to biologist Ray Metzler, assistant chief of wildlife for the agency,”Basically there is no biological reason to rehabilitate these animals.”

Really????? This from a biologist????

It's no wonder that animals are being abused, neglected, abandoned, tortured and murdered at alarming numbers. This is utter and complete $h!t..................Shame on these idiots.

Going to sign the petition and share it so this crap can be stopped.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore2 years ago

Signed and I told Alabama to frak off.

Claudia Cavallo
Claudia Cavallo2 years ago

This doesn't make any sense to me, this is really cruel, I have no words. First we hurt them and then we caanot heal them? really no sense and absolutely cruel, I really hope this won't be

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Animals suffer because of humans, the least you could do is to help them!! Shame Alabama!

William Eaves
William Eaves2 years ago

Sweet Home Alabama - unless you happen to be an injured animal :-(