Wildlife Rehabilitation

To have a seagull take flight from your hands or watch a squirrel scamper up a tree or see a seal making its way through the surf to return back to its natural habitat after spending days, weeks or months caring for it is indescribable. If you were to ask me I would have to argue that yes it is all worthwhile. And more importantly, it is the right thing to do, no matter what the cost. – Michael P. Belanger

I’m all in favor of sentiment, and I believe firmly that live animals are better than dead ones.

And I believe that “wildlife rehabilitation” is profoundly wrong.

There’s a lot amiss in our world. Birds die all the time. More and more of them die as the direct result of some human action.

But what makes more sense: putting in days and nights to nurse a baby Blue Jay back to health, or taking the same time to talk to your city council about eradicating feral cats? Paying a vet to set the broken wing of a cardinal, or donating that money to saving habitat? Weeping over a crippled raccoon, or dedicating that good will and great effort to actual conservation?

The question is rhetorical, the answer obvious. Obvious, that is, to sensible people concerned about their environment. I wish it were as obvious to the “rehabilitators” who spend their time and their money healing European Starlings, House Sparrows, and feral pigeons for release into the American wild.

For some years now, I’ve carefully confirmed that any organization I donate to has no involvement with this sort of thing. I’m glad that it gives people like our Mr. Belanger an “indescribable” feeling, but it’s not the right thing to do.