The California Department of Fish and Wildlife does not do wildlife rehabilitation. The Department licenses properly trained and experienced wildlife rehabilitators who do the actual work. Wildlife rehabilitators rescue ill, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back to the wild. All wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers who must pay for permits, cages, food, veterinary care... to rescue the animals. Wildlife rehabilitators receive no money or compensation from the Department or state to care for these animals. We rely solely on donations and grants from the public.
Nicole Bowser Carion became the rehab coordinator in October 2004. Before that a warden in each of the six California regions was in charge of the rehabbers in their region. Animal Advocates is located in region five. We are the only facility licensed in the City of Los Angeles serving over 4.5 million people and over 500 square miles. Warden Joseph Baima was the rehab coordinator in region five up until 2004. Warden Joseph Baima did a wonderful job educating, aiding, encouraging and permitting rehabbers in the region.
Since Nicole Carion became the rehab coordinator the number of permitted rehabbers has decreased by 15%. Number of wild animals rescued has decreased by 16,358 or 20%. While the economy is probably one of the reasons the number of rehabbers decreased from 2008 to 2012, Nicole Carion is the reason for the previous and continued decrease. We have been receiving more calls than ever before asking for help with wildlife but we have to refuse a great number of animals because we get full quickly. We take in between 700 and 1,400 mammals per year. The chart below shows the decreases from official Department of Fish & Wildlife reports.
Nicole Carion made it more difficult and costly to become a rehabber. The level of care of wildlife has not increased. Nicole Carion added a lot more red tape to make it almost impossible for new people to receive permits. Nicole Carion's job is to file an annual report of the number of rehabbers and animals rescued each year. She was three years behind in her reports until I sent in an information act request to obtain the reports. She finally finished and posted the reports.
Nicole Carion stopped accepting applications for permits when she started. I was the last person permitted in 2003. My permit was signed January 2004. She did not approve a new permit for at least two years. While she is accepting applications I don't believe she is approving new permits. We desperately need new wildlife rehabilitators so we can save more of California's wildlife.
One of the main reasons for having wildlife rehabilitators is so that the public will not try to help the animals themselves. Inexperienced people could be bitten, scratched or attacked while trying to help. They could spread zoonotic diseases and parasites such as parvo, rabies and round worms. A member of the public also won't know how to properly raise wildlife for release back to the wild. The animal may die from improper nutrition or not be releasable. We would end up with many illegal and possibly dangerous wild animals as pets. These things are already happening.
Please, contact the directors at Fish & Wildlife to ask them to increase the number of wildlife rehabilitators. The head of the Fish & Wildlife Department is Charlton Bonham. Deputy Director is Kevin Hunting. Dan Yparraguirre is in charge of the wildlife branch which oversees Wildlife Rehabilitation. email@example.com.