One of my good friends in Minnesota just completed her training to become a wildlife rehabilitator. Now a game warden in North Dakota is fighting her over a baby duck she took from North Dakota. There is also a woman in Fargo who has taken in baby birds for about 30 years. She has about a 90 percent rehabilitation success record. Well, this game warden got wind of her, raided her house and took all the birds, some of them in various stages of recovery and others still fledglings. He then fined her and her veterinarian. My land is a wildlife haven, and I have spent 20 years making it that way. Now when I raise a baby robin, which my mother taught me how to do, I may be raided by the cops. (My mom wrote a pamphlet for the North Dakota Audubon Society years ago titled "How to Care for Baby Birds and Animals.") This is North Dakota. Sometimes it's torturous to live out here, where I seem to be the only animal lover. Everyone shoots everything; shelterbelts are clear-cut in the middle of nesting season; people have cat factories at their farms; and dogs are full of ticks and cockleburs. It's sickening.
J.Z., Ayr, ND Sep 19, 2011
Some readers may find your letter inappropriate for my column, if not offensive. But what is truly offensive is how the land and animals, wild and domestic, are mistreated in much of rural America. The fact remains, as I emphasize in my new book, "Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health," that our physical, mental and spiritual health and long-term economic well-being depend on us keeping animals and the environment healthy. Years ago, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater intervened when the state Game & Fish department confiscated a baby quail, I think it was, that a boy had rescued. Surely the governor of North Dakota or some caring members of the state legislature could intercede and restrain this overzealous, if not uncaring, game warden from causing further harm. Wildlife, including what are often called trash and nuisance species, may be the "property" of the state, but that does not mean the state has no responsibility with regard to their health and well-being. The state has no right to prevent experienced, if not licensed, citizens from caring for sick and injured animals, especially when there are few or no state-run wildlife rescue and rehab facilities.
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