Myth/ Fact What the opposition argues!

The Wildlife Rehabilitator Act – Assembly Bill A2905/Senate Bill S1577

  • Introduced in the Assembly (Assembly No. A2905 Andrzejczak, Burzichelli/Mainor, Assemblywoman Watson Coleman, and Assemblyman Wilson) to address the cause for the loss of volunteers and create a vehicle to correct this problem.
  • Senate version No. S1577 (VanDrew/Whelan /Bateman/Beck/Singer).

 

MAIN POINTS OF BILL

  • Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators are trained and permitted to perform wildlife rehabilitation on specific animals. They care for injured, orphaned, or sick wildlife including the providing food, housing, medical care and returning the animal to the wild after treatment.
  • Over the past decade (2000–2010) wildlife encounters have increased while wildlife rehabilitators have decreased (130 to 22) with seven counties having no rehabilitators.
  • It is in the best interest of the State to increase the number of wildlife rehabilitators and rehabilitation facilities by creating and environment that encourages volunteers and eliminates conflict.
  • To this end, the Bill will establish an independent board that will provide oversight, permitting, education, licensing, inspections, and continuing education requirements of rehabilitators without any of the conflicts of interest that exist in the current structure.
  • The Bill will move rehabilitators from the Division of Fish and Wild life in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under the newly established Wildlife Rehabilitation Board in the DEP.
  • The Bill includes a Good Samaritan clause that provides immunity from liability for a person providing emergency care so long as the person contacts a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian as soon as possible and transfers the animal to them within 48 hours.

 

  • Establish the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board (WRAB)
    • In the DEP but distinct and separate from the Division of Fish and Wildlife Department.
    • Board Membership (10 members, 9 voting and 1 non-voting)
      • Commissioner of the DEP or designee (one – not of F&W, non-voting).
      • NJ Veterinary Medical Association in consultation with the NJ Certified Veterinarians Technician will nominate two members (with experience with injured wildlife preferably avian and exotics) – appointed by Governor.
      • Garden State Wildlife Rehabilitators Council and Coop will nominate 3 members (3 licensed NJ rehabilitators) – appointed by Governor.
      • Associated Humane Society of NJ and/or the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will nominate two members – appointed by Governor.
      • Members of the public with demonstrated interest in the protection of wildlife but not licensed or volunteer rehabilitators (two) – appointed by the Governor.
    • Serve without compensation.
    • Appointments are for 3 years (no more than 3 consecutive terms).
    • Role of the WRAB Board
      • Encourage volunteer rehabilitators and rehabilitation facilities to reverse the severe decline over the last 10 years.
      • Develop the permitting process, educational requirements, apprentice program, and continuing education program.
      • Establish facility inspection requirements for anyone authorized to conduct annual inspections of wildlife rehabilitation facilities.
      • Authorized to deny, suspend, or revoke a license of a wildlife rehabilitators or an apprentice based on the recommendation from the DPG but must provide a written statement and grant a hearing.
      • Establish permitting requirements and oversee the permitting process for the possession of permanently injured or endangered wildlife.
      • Review and validate or vacate all orders for the seizure or destruction of any animal prior to the seizure or destruction.
      • Address need for protecting the public from unknowingly endangering themselves when trying to deal with injured wildlife.

 

  • Wildlife Rehabilitator Applicants (prior to receiving a permit)
    • Must volunteer with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for at least 15 hours to predetermine interest in apprenticeship program.
    • Must receive a federal rehabilitation permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Avian species only).
    • Must obtain an apprentice license and satisfy all training requirements of the apprentice program including 100 hours of apprenticing.
    • Must pass the rehabilitation facility inspection.
    • May not been found in violation of any law, rule, or regulation concerning wildlife rehabilitation or animal cruelty.

 

Supporter s of the Wildlife Rehabilitators Act

  • The Animal Legal Defense Fund – a national non-profit law organization established in 1979 to protect the lives and interests of animals.
  • NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (NJSPCA)
  • Nature Preservation Council
  • Association of Humane Societies
  • Various County SPCAs
  • Animal Rehabilitation Alliance of NJ
  • NJ Veterinarians Medical Association
  • Garden State Wildlife Rehabilitators Council and Coop
  • Garden State Rehabilitation Coop
  • Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese
  • League of Humane Voters of NJ
  • Animal Protection League
  • Francis Avian
  • Redbank Veterinary Hospital

 

 


The Wildlife Rehabilitator Act

Assembly Bill A2905/Senate Bill S1577

 

  MYTH FACT
1 Fish & Wildlife are telling the legislators that the Bill will cost the State of NJ and the tax-payers  money to implement

 

The legislation is designed to restore the use of volunteer rehabilitators whose number has diminished from 130 to 23 in the past decade.  They are volunteers that have provided a service to the State and tax-payers for free for over 40 years.

There are no additional costs to the State other than what presently exists.  It costs Monmouth County zero dollars for two volunteers that have a 24/7 open door policy.  Public Health and Safety coverage is increased by having volunteers.

2 This legislation will put the major centers in operation today out of business

 

 

With the increasing number of human/wildlife encounters there is a need for both large wildlife centers and small home-based wildlife rehabilitators.  This legislation is not designed to shut down the centers, but focuses on increasing the number of wildlife rehabilitators available to the public.
3 It is due to the economy and personal financial burden that there are so few rehabilitators F&W has engaged in a campaign to intimidate and abuse volunteer rehabilitators to eliminate them from the State.  One licensed rehabilitator presently has 21 apprentices.  If all these apprentices become licensed the number of rehabilitators will double.  These apprentices have met all the State requirements, but none will seek licensure because of their fear of F&W.
4 F&W already created a Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Board therefore this legislation is not necessary F&W after 12 years of complaints recently created the Advisory Board because of this legislation.  However, the Advisory Board has no power or influence and is made up of individuals who support F&W.
5 The rogue rehabilitators supporting the legislation want less requirements and no rules or regulations

 

 

A2905/S1577 increases existing requirements for licensure and adds continuing education as part of being licensed.

All members of Garden State WRCC went through rigorous training and uphold the highest standards.  Many rehabilitators hold degrees in health care.  Rehabilitators are required to satisfy 100 hours of apprenticing under strict conditions in order to obtain a license.  In addition, facility inspections and yearly reports are the only way to maintain a license.  These requirements will always be in place.

6 The majority of rehabilitators oppose A2905/S1577 17 of the 23 licensed rehabilitators left in the State support A2905/S1577 along with the majority of former rehabilitators and current apprentices.
7 Eliminating F&W as the overseer of the rehabilitators will result in a loss of knowledge in various fields crucial to dealing with injured or orphaned wildlife In most instances current licensed volunteer rehabilitators who work with veterinarians are actually more knowledgeable and professionally trained then F&W staff.
8 A2905/S1577 is anti-hunter and anti-environmental A2905/S1577 has nothing to do with hunting or hunters or harm to the environment, but F&W used its relationship with hunting and environmental groups to seek opposition to A2905/S1577 to take away their power and control over licensed volunteer rehabilitators.  In fact, a number of hunters and environmentalist have written letters of support for the legislation.
9 The wildlife will be hoarded, abused, or made into pets The STATE SPCA is on the Board to ensure that nobody obtains a license that has been involved with abuse or any sort of negative behavior towards wildlife.
11 Fish & Wildlife are experts and standards will go down F&W provides no support to the volunteers, no land provision, no rescue provision, no 24/7 information support, or any medical expertise.  NJ licensed veterinarians, licensed rehabilitators and trained animal control will be on the Board to ensure all aspects of animal rehabilitation are enforced.  Nobody will be able to obtain a license until they complete the current and required apprenticeship and prove and maintain current and required standards.