Please, please stop relocating wildlife. Arya’s mother’s story is one of many that we hope will convince people to stop moving wild animals around.
Arya came to us a couple of weeks ago after her mother had been “humanely relocated” after ending up in someone’s attic. Within two days of admission, she began to develop seizures and difficulty swallowing. These are symptoms of central nervous system infections, usually either rabies or canine distemper. Arya must have been exposed to one of these viruses through her mother.
Distemper— the most common and likely cause— is extremely contagious. It is spread through any exposure to an animal’s pee, poop, or respiratory secretions, or can be spread to predators via their prey. We can nearly guarantee that, when Arya’s mother was relocated, she introduced distemper to a new area. She was suffering and sick while also confused and grief-stricken from suddenly losing her baby.
Skunks, foxes, and raccoons who did something as simple as sniffing her pee became infected. They spread it to their own young. If Arya’s mother was “lucky,” her distemper made her easy prey for a coyote, who then caught the infection and passed it to a mate and pups. If she was particularly unlucky, she died a very slow and painful death, and was then scavenged by a variety of animals, all of which became infected.
In other words, the people who relocated Arya’s mother made her Patient Zero for a wildlife epidemic. If she had simply been humanely excluded from the attic, she would have stayed in the same area where she was originally found. Given that she was in a populated suburban area, someone might have even noticed that she was sick and arranged for her and Arya to be humanely euthanized so they wouldn’t have suffered or spread the illness to other animals.
We did the only correct thing for Arya and made sure she had a comfortable journey to the Rainbow Bridge, and she will be tested for rabies as a precaution. We also take many steps to quarantine our patients so we feel confident that she could not have passed her disease to any other animals in our care. Still, we wish this had never happened and we feel heartbroken knowing that dozens of other animals are suffering a much worse fate because of someone choosing to relocate a sick raccoon.
Please choose humane exclusion and eviction. Relocating wildlife spreads disease, creates orphans, and leaves animals traumatized, hungry, and confused. Let’s all do better for our wild neighbors.