Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
I got myself in trouble. It was flattering to learn that people actually read my column. It just wasn't a fun way for the news to be delivered when two uniformed Department of Natural Resources officers showed up in my office Monday morning stating that they had received several phone calls in response to last week's column about the raccoon. Apparently the calls were not in regard to how the column was funny or had touched them in some way, mostly the callers wanted to blow a whistle on the criminals out there maliciously caring for the orphaned infant critters that happened to find themselves motherless on these law-breakers' farms.
The officers were extremely kind, caring, and professional. They were not out to write tickets or punish anyone involved, simply to educate me on the appropriate, socially acceptable interpretation of caring for all creatures great and small, and to find out who has the raccoons. It is in no way legal to keep wild animals as pets. Anyone finding orphaned litters of any kind should go through the proper channels, meaning the DNR, where you can be put in contact with licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area. In certain circumstances, you can even be granted permission to care for them where you found them, as long as you have been given permission, have some ongoing contact with a rehabilitator, and as long as the animals are going to stay wild, having the option of running off when they are mature enough. As for me, when people find injured wildlife, I too, need to contact a rehabilitator to consult about treating the injury and get the animal to them afterwards. In the future, I should not perform any procedures on wildlife that would be for the purpose of making them a better pet, since it is illegal to have wildlife as pets.
So that is about as much as you need to know about interacting with wildlife ... if you find them, contact the DNR. Just like you need to follow rules and get a license to hunt and fish, you need to follow rules and get a license or at least permission to care for wildlife.