We have a proposal for a new Alabama-based reality show: animal lovers vs. animal hunters. According to the New York Times, Alabama has both dedicated hunters and dedicated “rehabbers” (people who nurse injured wildlife back to health), and they’re nearly coming to blows over the fate of baby raccoons.
Raccoons are among the animals that rehabbers end up caring for. But recently the state told these groups that they should leave certain species alone — including feral pigs, bats, and raccoons. The idea, says the Times, is to keep rabies in check and the food chain chugging along smoothly:
“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. “People need to learn to let nature take its course.”
It’s not reeeeaaally that clear-cut, though. The threats to these raccoons include “trees felled to clear land … or new ribbons of roadways [that] bring more cars.” These kill raccoon mommas and leaves baby raccoons to fend for themselves. Not really “nature taking its course.”
So, according to the Times, some rehabbers are still dedicated to raising raccoons. And they blame the hunting culture for the state’s anti-raccoon push:
“These guys, they have some issue with raccoons,” Mr. Russ said. “They always have.”
A hunter-first mentality, the rehabbers say, led to the state’s suggestion that raccoons, along with possums and skunks, which are also on the list, be euthanized or just left to fend for themselves.
“If somebody brings me a baby raccoon, I’m not going to turn it away,” Mr. Russ said. “It’s a death sentence.”
And, I mean, we know raccoons can end up being great pets, so we can’t exactly fault this choice.
Don’t Help Injured Baby Raccoons?, New York Times.