As Wildlife Rehabilitators, our primary goal is to rehabilitate and release as many wild animals as possible that come to us for care. It is also one of the best parts of our jobs! As you can imagine, wild animals come to us after some extremely traumatic experiences and with many injuries or health concerns. Whether they are babies who have been orphaned for days and are suffering from severe dehydration and emaciation, or adults who have sustained an injury from an accident, we see animals on their worst days. Depending on their health concerns, each animal is given an individual treatment plan catered to their needs. The process may be long, but in the end we are always hoping for a successful outcome and release!
Throughout the rehabilitation process, animals are monitored closely to ensure that they are healing well and treatment plans are modified if necessary. Eventually, those animals move outside to pre-release and reconditioning enclosures to prepare for release. In these enclosures they are improving their physical and cognitive abilities, as well as getting used to the weather. After the Wildlife Rehabilitators deem their skills appropriate for release and they are given a good bill of health, the wildlife in our care are released back to the wild! Each species has different requirements for release which are related to their natural history and what they need to have the best chance at survival. Depending on the species needs, some are taken directly back to where they were found and others are taken to an appropriate location with good access to food, water, and shelter. Though you wouldn’t expect it, the best releases are the ones where they don’t look back at you, but run happily away to restart their lives in the wild!
Allow municipalities the opportunity to implement non-lethal deer management options.
Assembly Bills A4182 and A4183 were discussed at the Assembly Agriculture Committee meeting Monday, June 13th. They do two main things: They allow the use of bait for the purposes of hunting to attract, entice, or lure deer. And they suggest that to control the deer population, the only way is to expand hunting rights and kill the animal. This is not only wrong. It’s inhumane. And in many cases it’s also counterproductive.
The Lesniak Institute, alongside animal welfare groups that testified, suggested an amendment to allow municipalities the opportunity to implement non-lethal options in addition to the existing management options.
We prefer a free standing bill which will be introduced by Senators Zwicker and Gopal to accomplish it.
Senator Lesniak stated: Non-lethal means of deer management by surgical sterilization, otherwise known as spaying, of female deer has significantly reduced local deer populations in Virginia, California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Maryland, but has been made impossible in New Jersey by an administrative requirement of the Fish and Wildlife Council that requires written prior consent from property owners within 2000 feet of any sedation darting of deer that is being conducted on public property, an impossible requirement.
The justification for this requirement is that a sedated deer can run 2000 feet onto private property after being darted before collapsing, but it is unduly burdensome and effectively prevents non-lethal deer management.
As is done in other states, law enforcement or an animal control officer will ring the doorbell to notify a property owner that they will be entering their property to remove the sedated deer to be taken to a location for sterilization. This is no different from current law enforcement or animal control officer’s authority.
To accomplishments non lethal means I propose an amendment to N.J.S.A. 23:4-42.4 Submission of deer management plan which would state “ Effected property does not include property where a deer darted for sterilization is needed to be removed by law enforcement or an animal control officer or their agent.”
There were other Deer Management testimonies with varying solutions to address overpopulation.
Let us be clear.
At the Lesniak Institute we do not oppose all deer hunting, rather we urge all forms of deer management be considered and those most effective be utilized.
Brian Hackett, Legislative Affairs Manager at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, stated he is pro deer fencing in an effort to protect farmers’ crops and, too, is not anti- hunting. Hackett pointed out how 50 years of just hunting alone has not fixed the overpopulation issue and furthermore urged the committee to allow for non-lethal means to be added to the growing deer population management options.
The Humane Society of The United States conducted a study on Fripp Island, S.C. A location in which deer fertility management has been the most successful. The study found “over a five-year period, the deer population decreased by nearly 60 percent. In addition, residents of Fripp Island are very pleased by the results, happy to see that the remaining deer population on the island is healthier and causing fewer conflicts.”
The proposed amendment would allow trained professionals along with a local law enforcement or animal control officer to remove a deer that came to rest on private property and relocate it for sterilization. Sterilization is a non-lethal long term step at reducing the deer population since female deer would be unable to reproduce.
We at The Lesniak Institute believe good public policy includes humane treatment of animals and adopting the most effective means of deer management. Our proposed amendment will accomplish both objectives.
About The Author: Brittany Macaluso is the policy and advocacy coordinator at the Lesniak Institute and a recent MSW graduate from Columbia University School of Social Work
This opossum came into our Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital weighing 19 grams and was the lone survivor after its mom was hit by a car. After several months of tube feeding, dish feeding, and foraging, this big girl was ready to be released! Click the link to watch the release video: Opossum Release
What to do when you find an Opossum in need of help: If you find an opossum that is smaller than 8 inches, not including the tail, please give Cedar Run, or your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator, a call. Unfortunately, for opossum babies, their mom is unable to count and doesn’t know when she is missing a little one. This also means she won’t come back for them and they will need our help! If you find a mom on the road, please bring her and the babies to your closest licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Do not try to take the babies off of mom as it can cause irreversible issues if it isn’t done correctly. Any injured opossums can be placed into a box with holes or a carrier lined with a towel, paper towels, or new paper and then taken to your closest licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
If you have questions regarding an injured or orphaned New Jersey native wildlife, please call Cedar Run’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital at 856-983-3329 ext. 107 for advice!
The work that Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge does to preserve and protect our native wildlife is only able to be made possible by generous donations from individuals, corporations, private foundations and our members. Our nonprofit organization does not receive any federal or state funding.
Please consider donating to help care over 6,300 wild animals that we see each year. Our primary goal, in every possible case, is to rehabilitate and release back to the wild.
DO NOT KEEP WILDLIFE! In every case, this causes more harm than good!
Every year Cedar Run’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital receives calls and animal drop-offs for wildlife that have been raised by the finder and are in need of care. The most common species that are seen in this situation are raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and turtles. Most of these animals were found as babies and raised in the finder’s home like they would do with a kitten or puppy. The reasons for relinquishing the animals are numerous, but generally are because the animals are becoming unmanageable, require too much care, or they have developed a health issue related to improper diet and housing. Sometimes, the finders decide that it is not the best setting for a wild animal and want them to be rehabilitated, but at that point the impact may be so great that even Wildlife Rehabilitators cannot turn it around.
In the state of New Jersey it is illegal to raise native wildlife unless you are a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. This law is necessary to ensure that wild animals are getting the best care and so that untrained citizens are not being exposed to the many dangers and zoonotic illnesses and parasites that can afflict wildlife at any age. While the baby animal may be cute, it can potentially expose your family to a range of life-threatening illnesses. This includes rabies, which is a fatal disease. These animals are also physically dangerous, with strong bites and sharp claws. All of this can be harmful not only to you, but also to your pets. In addition, improper diets and husbandry can lead to medical issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease in the wild animal which many times are irreparable and will prevent release. The nutritional needs of wild animals are much different than domestic dogs, cats, and birds.
For these animals in need of care to have the best chance of survival out in the wild, make sure to call Cedar Run or your local Wildlife Rehabilitator immediately! NEVER attempt to raise a wild animal or expose it to your family or pets. DO NOT handle wild animals of any age without protective gloves. Even having this animal overnight may do more harm than good. We recommend no food or water to be given until you speak with someone on our wildlife team, as this may do more harm than good.
If you find a potentially orphaned native wild animal, please call your local Wildlife Rehabilitator for advice. You can reach our Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital at 856-983-3329 ext. 107. If you have found an animal injured or truly orphaned animal in need outside of our operating hours, Cedar Run has a 24 hour porch drop-off where our staff will regularly check in on new patients.
Our primary goal is to help give wildlife a second change to be wild and free!