Pennsylvania Game Commission Needs to Save Rescued Wildlife

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Originally Posted: 16 June 2009

Pennsylvania Game Commission Needs to Save Rescued Wildlife

Tell the Pennsylvania Game Commission to establish policy so rescued wild animals are treated with compassion and sent to licensed rehabilitators rather than killing them.


Pennsylvania Game Commission
2001 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797
phone (717) 787-4250


A couple rescued an 8-pound fawn, badly injured by a dog and nursed her back to health.

Then they called a Pennsylvania Game Commission officer for help. According to local news reports the officer took the healthy fawn (not the one pictured here) and shot it, saying the couple violated state law by taking wildlife. Sadly, every spring the same story is repeated in various places in Pennsylvania: a Good Samaritan takes in an orphan or injured fawn and the Game Commission employs its "all kill" policy.

The couple even volunteered to drive the fawn to a wildlife rehabilitator but the officer said no. He claimed the officers evaluate each animal found on a case by case basis. I can't think of a case in the almost nine years I've lived in Pennsylvania where the Game Commission responded to a call for an orphan or injured fawn that had a happy ending. Perhaps someone can prove me wrong.


From Beaver County Times Online

After a neighbor’s dog badly injured a young deer last month, Rebecca Durr nursed the 8-pound fawn back to health and called the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Durr, of Darlington Township, said the game commission promptly took the animal away and destroyed it despite her vehement protestations.

“He was very nice, very polite,” Durr said of Beaver County wildlife conservation officer Matt Kramer, who answered the call. “It wasn’t his fault. It came from higher up. They took this baby deer and just shot her.”

Durr’s first mistake was assisting an injured animal. Kramer, who wouldn’t comment about this specific case, said state law prohibits residents from harboring wild animals. The main reasons are that animals can carry such diseases as rabies and heartworm, which can be transmitted to humans or domestic animals, he said. And wild animals can be infected with diseases that humans and domestic animals carry. Kramer said another reason for the prohibition is to prevent trading in illegal pets.

“When they’re injured like that, the best case is to call the game commission,” he said. “We’re the ones who are trained to handle wildlife.”

The commission has cited residents who have done the same thing as Durr did. Kramer did not cite Durr.

Durr, who raises goats and other small animals on her farm, said Pennsylvania has licensed rehabilitators across the state who care for injured wild animals. She volunteered to drive the deer to one, even if it meant driving across the whole state, but she was refused.

“They’re saying they’re doing this because of diseases,” she said. “My argument with (Kramer) was we’re out there hunting these animals and eating them, but now you’re saying they have disease. I just don’t get it.”

Kramer said game officers evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the animal should go to a rehabilitator. Certain rare animals would receive more consideration than those in large populations.

Kramer said similar situations play out across the state at this time every year.

Their Reasoning

People find young animals that they believe parents have abandoned and take them in for all the right reasons, he said. But the problem is that this almost always interferes with the natural interaction of animals in the wild.

Young animals are many times free of scent, so predators cannot detect them, he said. When separated from their parents, they take on a “hider strategy,” lying very still in the woods and blending in with surroundings due to coloring.

“When a human sees that, the first inclination is to think, ‘Well, this animal is abandoned,’ when in actuality mom is probably in the near vicinity,” Kramer said.

Not alone

Durr said she and her husband were trying to do the right thing. They didn’t want to get in trouble for harboring a wild animal, so she called the game commission looking for help.

She thinks the law stinks and should be changed.

“I found out there’s a whole lot more incidents like this out there,” she said. “There’s a petition out there to get these laws changed. My husband and I, I guess, we’re too honest for our own good.”

Thank you for everything you do for animals!

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