What is National Wildlife Day?

Today, September 4, is National Wildlife Day. I had never heard of it before, but a Nature Conservancy newsletter that arrived today happened to mention it. It’s been around since 2006.

According to the National Wildlife Day website, the day is brought to us by the Animal Miracle Network. And if you have never heard of that either, that’s because it’s a pet rescue organization. (I could not find any media on any of this that was not a rehash of a press release, or just a press release.)

Again, according to the website, animal advocate Colleen Paige, founder of the Animal Miracle Network, created the day in 2006 to honor Animal Planet star Steve Irwin and the zoos and animal sanctuaries that preserve endangered wildlife and educate the public about their plight.

The website says that National Wildlife Day aims to focus attention on the endangered animals that need to be preserved and rescued. (I would just quote the sentence from the website, but the website denies that use without prior permission, even though it would be “fair use,” under copyright law.) So you can kind of see the train of thought here: rescuing cats and dogs, rescuing wildlife.

Don’t get me wrong, I love zoos, respect their work, and honor the way they allow people to connect with animals. But if this is the point, how about calling it National Zoo Day?

A day devoted to the idea that keeping endangered wildlife captive is a way to protect it is worrisome. This, of course, is just one tool, and a last-ditch one, in a very large toolbox. It feels like the guiding spirit here is the pet-ification of wildlife (my clues are the photos of the founder hugging a wolf and kissing a bear), although it may be simply retro, or even deliberately choosing to focus on this tiny piece of the conservation puzzle even though it’s not the dominant technique.

National Wildlife Day is doing its best to control the message that goes out under its name, which is really too bad. Who can argue against a day to recognize wildlife, except, as is the case, if it focuses on one tiny aspect of wildlife — endangered species — and just one of many techniques for helping those species. As far as I know, it’s not an official day, of the sort recognized by Congress or a state legislature.

In fact, National Wildlife Day didn’t make the “Days of the Year” website (which is just a random website, and is also not official), but the much more mainstream Endangered Species Day (May 16, 2014 — mark your calendars) did.

Read a press release about National Wildlife Day from Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma on the EIN News site, here.

Who Should Oversee Deer Breeding and Captive Hunts?

white_tailed_deer_buckThe deer breeding and captive hunt industry would like state departments of agriculture to regulate their industry, rather than state fish and wildlife departments. The industry has made a legislative push throughout the country for more favorable regulations.

A blog in Outdoor Life points out that state wildlife agencies should regulate all of a state’s deer because of the threat of disease — particularly chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is often associated with captive deer hunting facilities, and odd genes escaping into the wild deer herd, not to mention the problem of turning a public resources (wild deer) into private property.

Read the Outdoor Life blog here.

The Associated Press recently ran a story about the controversy over regulating private deer enclosures in Mississippi. The state wildlife department has regulated the facilities since 2008. A legislative committee says it shouldn’t.

Read the story in SF Gate.

Wildlife Professional magazine had an excellent article on this subject back in December. It reviews all the threats to the wild deer herd from captive hunt and deer breeding facilities.

Read the article here.

Photo: A wild buck, by Joe Kosack/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Deer Health

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer there last week. As you may guess from the state department issuing the news, CWD was found in captive deer.

CWD had been found in New York, which borders Pennsylvania, several years ago and is believed to be eradicated there. But there have been more recent incidents in West Virginia and Maryland, which also border the state.

(My rough measurements show the Pennsylvania case as being about 40 miles from where CWD was found in Maryland and West Virginia.)

Read the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture press release here. (It’s a PDF).
Read an article in the Lehigh Valley Morning Call, here.

In other deer health news, Louisiana State Wildlife Division chief Kenny Ribbeck told the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission last week that Hurricane Isaac killed up to 90 percent of the deer fawns in the Maurepas Basin, according to an Associated Press article that you can read in The Oregonian. Deer hunting in the region has been adjusted as a result.

And in the category of “when is no news actually news” the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre notes in its blog that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) came awfully close to Canada this year. The midge that spreads EHD is not found in Canada, it says, but the disease may move north with the midge because of climate change. It also notes that because the disease has never struck there, the outbreak may be severe.

Read the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre blog post, here.

Photo: Joe Kosack/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Controversy in NC Deer Killing

On September 20 North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission officials killed seven fallow deer and two white-tailed deer being held in an unlicensed deer rehabilitation facility in Randolph County. (More here.) In August they killed two fawns being held without a permit or rehabilitator’s license in Surry County.

(Story on the fawns, here.)

The locals are pretty steamed. There’s a petition posted in the local grocery store. (Read about it here.) And one on-line.

The controversy was fed by conflicting reports of the exact method used to kill the deer: shotgun, rifle or bolt. Also, two “uniformed officials” demanded that the grocery store petitions be taken down. (Story here.) Although, that could have been anyone, including some Frito delivery guys.

The flames have been fanned by the local Fox News outfit, which has done several stories on the situation, including one, just to make it fair and balanced, with the Commission’s defense of the shootings. 

Rounding out the coverage was a story on the lawsuit filed against the state by the couple who were illegally holding the deer.

A copy of what is supposed to be an NC Wildlife Resources Commission press release has been posted by the Fox station, but is not available through the Commission’s Web site. Read it here. A different statement from the Commission appeared on the Ammoland blog, which frequently posts press releases from state wildlife agencies. Read that one here.

Enforcing captive wildlife laws has always been sensitive. This is all food for thought as society moves farther away from understanding animals as wildlife, and only relates to them as pets or food. (Does anyone remember Pete the Moose?)

(And in a weird co-incidence, Pete the Moose died around Oct. 14, shortly after we posted that aside. Read the story in the Burlington Free-Press.)

Photo: Lots of photos of cute fawns illustrated the Fox stories on the controversy. This cute fawn picture is not of any of the animals involved. It’s by Tom Stehn, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.