They're cute, but they'll die if you try to help save them
Humane Society must kill sick, orphaned wild animals brought in

Bridget Roussy
The Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, May 23, 2004
The Humane Society can't care for wild animals like squirrels.
CREDIT: Nathan Denette, The Canadian Press

Animal lovers eager to protect wildlife are unwittingly dooming the animals to a death sentence by bringing them to the Ottawa Humane Society, says the shelter's executive director.

Bruce Roney says people don't understand that provincial law forces the society to euthanize sick, injured and orphaned wild animals.

Before the closing of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre in December 2002, people were able to bring injured or unwanted wildlife for rehabilitation there. Now, the Humane Society is getting lots of calls about squirrels, raccoons and skunks.

In the past few months, birthing season in the wild, "we've been getting a lot of phone calls; in fact, our calls about wildlife are outstripping our calls about domestic animals, which, of course, are our primary concern," he says.

Since April 1, the society has taken in more than 220 wild animals. Eighty were already dead and the rest, more than 140 animals, were euthanized with a drug called Euthasol.

People are warned the animals will be euthanized when they are brought in, Mr. Roney said, which is why he is urging people to leave wildlife in their own environment.

People who bring healthy wildlife will be turned away and referred to a veterinarian.

"Our message to the public is if there are juveniles and people are picking them up, then take them to your vet, because it's not our job to do that for the public," said Mr. Roney

The wildlife centre closed at the end of 2002 due to changes in the provincial regulations regarding wildlife care. The new law forbid rehabilitation of rabies-prone species, such as raccoons and skunks, which made up most of the centre's cases.

Donna Dubreuil, president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, has formed a provincewide coalition to try to change the Ministry of Natural Resources regulations, adding that people now have nowhere to turn and are frustrated. The centre operates an information website, but can no longer take in wildlife.

"This is going to be a problem that's going to surface every year at this time, until there's some resolution," said Ms. Dubreuil.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004

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