OnFocus – OnFocus – Recently, two young girls showed up at Wild Instincts Rehab with an injured mink. With over 42 years experience providing quality, ethical, professional wildlife rehabilitation to Wisconsin’s Northwoods, this situation was not unique to the rescue. Unfortunately, a Wisconsin DNR rule implemented last month meant that Wild Instincts was not allowed to help the girls.
Unable to tell the girls to “go put it back”, they tried calling a wildlife biologist as instructed.
Even knowing whom to call, it took Wild Instincts half a dozen calls to get to someone. Even in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, no one was available.
When there’s a wild animal suffering and in need, most people will try to do the right thing and contact a wildlife rehab facility. Unfortunately, the recent statewide ban on rehabilitation of any Mustelid or Felid is making these rehab’s jobs nearly impossible.
“As of August 21, 2020, WDNR has instituted a statewide ban on rehabilitation of any Mustelid or Felid. This means wildlife rehabilitations are unable to admit weasels, minks, otters, badgers, fisher or bobcats, to name a few,” said Mark Naniot, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Wild Instincts. “These animals are believed to be susceptible to SARS CoV2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 in people.”
Naniot said the ban was created because there is a concern people may be able to spread the virus to the animals, which then could spread it throughout the wild population of Wisconsin.
“We agree this is a concern, however, not allowing these animals into care simply means the general public will be taking matters into their own hands,” said Naniot. “This actually increases the potential for spread of SARS CoV2 to the animal and the wild population.”
Naniot is no stranger to mitigating infectious diseases.
“Wildlife rehabbers deal with disease prevention on a daily basis,” he said. “Disease transmission and prevention are part of the training every rehabber must have in order to get their permit.”
“Wildlife rehab is an important service provided by trained professionals that have not been given a chance to provide any input on this situation,” he said. “People with a starving bobcat kitten in their yard will not just ‘leave it alone.’ They will try to help it the best they can, legally or illegally.”
Naniot said that most of the animals that arrive at the rehab are injured as a result of human causes.
“A large number of animals we admit are due to human causes, whether that be hit by car, tangled in line or garbage, attacked by family pets, construction or development, etc. The list is quite long,” he said. “Is that nature taking its course? If we are having such a great impact on our environment, shouldn’t we do what we can to minimize it?”
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