Shelter sees rise in animal shootings

Staff at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter tend to a Canadian Goose that was shot. - Photo courtesy of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter
Staff at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter tend to a Canadian Goose that was shot.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the West Sound Wildlife Shelter

Officials with the West Sound Wildlife Shelter are startled and distressed at the rise in patients coming in with gunshot wounds.

“There is a trend in shootings,” said Mike Pratt, director of wildlife services for the West Sound Wildlife Shelter. “It’s very disturbing.”

Pratt said that when he started working in wildlife rehab 20 years ago, shootings of animals weren’t uncommon, but with education the occurrences became rare.

But in 2012 the shelter treated 52 patients with gunshot wounds, considerably higher than the normal, according to Pratt.

“We might have taken in two animals a year with shootings in past years,” he said. “Over the last two years it has just sky rocketed.”

The shelter is taking in a range of animals such as ones that might be considered nuisances like coyotes, raccoons and even squirrels. But what’s more troubling to Pratt is that animals that aren’t normally in conflict with humans are also being shot, such as songbirds, by a variety of firearms.

“It ranges everything from pellets to a .22 to a shotgun. I had an owl in recently that was just peppered by a shotgun,” he said. “A turkey vulture came in that was shot. Who is he hurting?”

Pratt is also concerned because of where the animals are showing up injured.

“You are finding

them residential areas

where you shouldn’t

even be target practicing,” he said.

The shootings could also tie into another problem the shelter deals with; orphaned animals. People will often trap or kill an animal perceived as a nuisance or threat such as coyotes, opossums or rats. It is then not uncommon to find a nest of babies left without a parent. It’s the second highest reason animals come into the shelter.

“A lot of times people think a raccoon is nuisance and trap the mom and later discover that there is a nest and the baby is orphaned,” Pratt said. “We get a lot of orphans.”

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