A state conservation agency allows volenteers to help take care of injured animals. But another association who allows any kind of hunting is not pleased with these people. "There is no reason to rehabilitate these animals," says Ray Meztler, a head employee at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "People need to learn to let nature take its course."
In this animal rehabilitation center, the animals most taken care of were pigs, foxes coyotes and bats. But top on the list were raccoons. Raccoons have never had it easy in Alabama, where hunting licenses and a good coon dog are cultural currency in some parts. Some hunters keep raccoons in cages for dog training.
But rehabbers, instead of using them for dog snacks, love raccoons. They are cute, soft and cuddly and easy to train at a young age. When entering adolescence, these care takers often release them into the wild.
John Russ, a rehabber is one person who loves taking care of these animals. But he's found a new problem with doing so: The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have suggested that it should be illegal to own any wild animal. Russ has tried to fight this law with other rehabbers. "If anyone tries to hand me a raccoon, I'll just turn it away." he says. "It's a death sentence."
Russ and his wife are pleading for assistance by making two petitions and hope for at least 28,000 signatures.
"We are not trying to put them out of buisness by any means," says Meztler. "The point is we want people to leave wildlife alone. These raccoons are accustomed to eating out of the dog bowl- it's not going to survive in the wild."