Don’t Rescue Native Prey from Native Predators

We were on the fence about sharing this story, because we know there are people who will be offended and upset by our advice to sometimes let nature be nature. But we feel we have an obligation to advocate for wildlife even when our advice is upsetting or unpopular. So here’s a true story that happened last week: the “other side” of the story.

Once upon a time, in Hamilton County, Tennessee, there was a hard-working crow family with babies to feed. Crows are very social, sensitive, and intelligent, and are fiercely dedicated to their mates and young. A daddy crow was working very hard to feed his fast-growing family, and he was doing a fine job. He was exhausted and he was barely able to keep himself fed, but his mate and his babies were thriving. He loved them, and he was proud of them.

Crows grow very quickly in their first few weeks of life, and their need for lots of food means that parents must work very, very hard in order for them to survive. As omnivores, crows need to feed their young meat in addition to fruits and seeds in order to survive. Without it, the babies will pass away from anemia, failure to thrive, or simply starvation. So, of course, being a good parent, Daddy Crow was on the lookout for meat.

Daddy Crow found some newborn mammals. Perfect! They’re nutrient-rich and soft, perfect for helping his little ones grow. Excited with his find, he called his mate to help split up the bounty and bring it home.

While they was at work preparing a meal for their children, a human saw what he was doing and decided that the crow parents were evil and chased them away. After spending the whole day (and precious energy) desperately looking for food, the parents now had nothing to feed their little ones, or themselves.

Their dinner was brought to For Fox Sake. He was a tiny raccoon less than two days old and he could not be saved. He had internal injuries, as evidenced by blood coming out of his ears, nose, mouth, and rectum. While his finder thought they were doing the right thing, the truth is that no one was rescued. Instead, multiple animals were victimized— the crows and their young, who lost their hard-earned meal, and the raccoon himself, whose suffering was greatly prolonged by a well-intended effort to save him.

Wildlife rehabilitators are not gods of the forest, here to pass moral judgments on animals and punish the ones whose diets or language or appearance don’t meet our personal standards. We’re here to save wild animals when it’s both necessary and compassionate to do so. In the event of a natural predator who is in the middle of eating its natural prey, intervention isn’t appropriate.

While we always want to help native wild animals who are hurt by human causes or domestic animals— or who are suffering in a way that offers no benefit to other animals or the greater ecosystem— we ask our supporters across the world to be compassionate to animals in every position on the food chain and to remember that even the less glamorous animals in the natural world have a role to play. Out of sympathy for both predator and prey, please don’t try to stop native predators from eating.

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