Those that rehabilitate wild raccoons in Alabama are upset with the state conservation agency that recently sent out a letter telling people to stop rehabilitating certain animals.
“There is no biological reason to rehabilitate these animals,” said Ray Metzler, assistant chief of wildlife for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, according to The New York Times. “People need to learn to let nature take its course.”
However, rehabbers – what people who help injured wildlife call themselves – including John Russ say the new restrictions stem from a conflict between members of one rehabilitation group and local wildlife officials.
The 65-year-old Russ, who is a former Marine, just last week released two raccoons on his 144-acre sanctuary.
“These guys, they have some issue with raccoons,” Russ said. “They always have.”
The state’s rehabbers have vowed to fight the ban, even if it brings trouble in a state where keeping a wild animal without a permit is illegal.
MSN reports that in addition to raccoons, the list includes feral pigs, coyotes, bats and foxes.
Pleas for support have been sent to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and to well-known animal rights activists Ellen DeGeneres and Bob Barker. Two petitions with at least 28,000 signatures are being prepared for Gov. Robert Bentley.
Metzler said the new policy was developed after a year of study and consultation with federal wildlife and rabies experts and not out of a dislike for rehabbers or raccoons.