Friday, September 21, 2007

Wild animals and the government

Joanna sent me this article entitled "Bambi vs. the Bureaucrats: Oregon Seizes Pet Deer, Controversy Erupts". It was pretty interesting, and I finished the article not really sure where I stood on the issue.

An excerpt:
Had he been a hunter, and had the mottled white doe that tumbled down a hill into his rural Oregon driveway six years ago been an adult, Jim Filipetti could have ponied up $19, applied for a deer tag and gunned the animal down. He could have butchered the deer the state now knows as "Snowball," mounted her head on the wall and moved on with his life.

But Filipetti chose to raise the injured fawn as a pet, spending thousands of dollars on veterinarian bills to treat her deformed hooves, installing strips of carpet throughout his house so she wouldn't slip on the hardwood floors, and feeding her a steady diet of sweetpeas, tomatoes and green beans—"the best that Safeway had to offer," he says. After 12 months, the house painter moved her to a pen outside his home in Molalla, Ore., but she was still a member of the family. "It was like having a dog around the house," Filipetti says.

Of course, my first thought is "Oooh the government needs to stop meddling in our personal freedoms!" When is it more legal to shoot a deer than nurse it back to health? Are we really trying to protect life, or just make everyone robots?

The article goes on to present the flip side of the situation:
[State officials] still insist Filipetti's kindness was misplaced. Approaching wild animals is a bad idea because the well-intentioned are likely to get hurt, says Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife. "If they say 'Oh, gosh, the doe has gotten too big, we need to release it,' the doe will go to extremes to get fed. It'll break down fences and break into a house," Hargrave says. "A buck will grow antlers and attack." There's also a risk of catching diseases from wild animals, Hargrave adds.

This isn't the first time a kind-hearted, misguided Oregonian has tried to heed the call of the wild. Last year, an 11-year-old girl in the coastal city of Waldport suffered a bruised skull and jaw after the deer her family had adopted after it was hit by a car decided to turn on the child, pinning her against a fence. And in 2005, state officials discovered a black bear in the home of a Roseburg man. The bear had been living there for years, it turns out, eating people food, even sleeping in a bed made for humans. A dozen times in the past year and a half, Hargrave says, state officials have had to remove wild animals from people's homes.

Now I don't know what to think. I wish that we could all enjoy wildlife and do what's best for it, and have the freedom to do so. However, I do understand that you can't always trust people to act in the animal's best interests. So, I am grateful that the government DOES step in for those cases. All this kinda reminds me of the controversy surrounding the cute polar bear, Knut.

What do you think about this? Do you think there should be regulations about wild animals and the people who take them in? Should you need a permit to do so? Or should animals be left to their own defenses in the wild, just letting nature to take its course?

(Oh and by the way, if you DO stop and pick up a deer off the side of the road, make sure you have a good truck bed liner or their hooves will scratch up the paint. Don't ask me how I know.)

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