The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter often receives injured and infant wildlife, especially in the spring and early summer. These animals must be transferred out to licensed rehabilitators and rehab centers that are overseen by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Once in the hands of rehabilitators, these animals are assessed for their ability to recover and be released back into the wild, or euthanized because their health is such that they cannot recover sufficiently to be reintroduced to their normal environment.
There are also some opportunities to house special-needs animals at refuges, but these are few and far between. Infant animals, according to species and maturity, can often be saved. “Pinkies,” infants that don’t have fur yet, can be difficult because they require a huge time commitment for feeding and because they miss out on the natural antibodies that they normally would get from mother’s milk. Squirrel babies are generally very hearty and fare well; bunnies, on the other hand, are fragile and most often don’t survive.
If you find wildlife of any size that you feel requires assistance, you should check with your local animal control officer or a Fish & Wildlife officer for advice before you do anything. You are also welcome to call the shelter so that we can refer or facilitate some sort of help.
Last week, we sent one of our staff members to a seminar given by one of our local rehabilitators on safely transporting injured animals. Part of the discussions dealt with the nature of injuries commonly reported, one of which caught my attention but actually isn’t an injury at all.
Angel wing is a deformity suffered mostly by aquatic birds, such as geese and ducks, that are malnourished. What is surprising is that this is believed to be caused by an excessive intake of carbohydrates and proteins, often provided by humans in the form of bread. Although the small birds that we feed in our backyards are typically picky about what they eat, ducks and geese are not. In parks or other areas frequented by well-intended people bringing their bags of leftover bread, the birds will fill up themselves up on it, but the bread holds no nutritional value for them. On any given day, a walk through Giampietro Park in Vineland will most probably reveal birds that have a wing sticking out at an odd angle rather than lying flat against their sides. Sadly, this often results in the bird being unable to fly and therefore unable to defend itself from predators, dodge vehicles or move with the flock.Spring is the time of year that many people get themselves up off the sofa and out of the house for a nice walk, so let this serve as a reminder to leave the bread at home. Feeding wild birds is often prohibited. But, if there are areas that allow it, you can still enjoy doing so – just bring the right food. Raw seed, cracked corn and chopped-up fruit are just a few healthy foods that are easy to pack and that will be nutritionally valuable to the birds. And by the way, whether you feed the ducks or not, if you walk your dog in the park, keep him leashed and away from the birds; it’s not fair to the birds and it’s not safe for your dog, especially with geese and swans.
Did you lose your ram in Bridgeton?
BRIDGETON – Police found themselves on the horns of a dilemma this week.
A passer-by notified officers Tuesday morning that a ram was walking along Irving Avenue near InspiraBridgeton Health Center.
Officers Jonathon Hovermann and Jennifer Skala responded to the scene and encountered the animal, whom they nicknamed “Burgy.”
They were unable to locate Burgy’s owner, so authorities took it to the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in Vineland. The ram’s owner is urged to contact the SPCA as soon as possible.
Police noted the ram was friendly.
VINELAND — Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officials stated on Wednesday they cannot prosecute a case involving two dead roosters found in a bag over the weekend.
The roosters were apparently sacrificed in a religious ritual by practitioners of Santeria, a religion of West African and Caribbean origin, with Roman Catholic influences, according to Cumberland County SPCA Executive Director Bev Greco.
They were discovered in Willow Oak Natural Area, on East Landis Avenue, along with a collection of black candles and a plastic cup labeled “dirt from the cemetery” written in Spanish.
“Given the things that we’ve found, it appears to be a Santeria religious rite, which is a very complicated religion with many facets to it,” said Greco.
“Also, according to a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court case, you cannot prosecute for animal sacrifice unless they were killed inhumanely.”
According to Greco, the roosters’ throats were cut at the carotid artery and left to bleed out.
SPCA officials stated animals typically die very quickly when killed this way.
“Getting into what counts as legally humane can get tricky, but in this case, this meets the court’s criteria of not being inhumane,” said Greco. “Really, there’s no place we can go with this, not too many places the investigation can go.”
Greco also stated the SPCA receives “a few” similar cases of rooster sacrifice each year in Cumberland County.
According to police, a 54-year-old Vineland man stumbled upon the bag containing the roosters on Friday while walking his dog along a nature trail.
However, he did not inspect the bag until he saw it for a second time on Sunday.
Police officers who responded to the area later found another bag nearby. It contained black candles, a pair of wool gloves and a plastic butter dish apparently containing dirt from a cemetery.
Police stated there was no evidence that the ritual had been performed at the park.
“It’s something that’s more prevalent in some Spanish populations,” said Greco.
Followers of the religion can be found in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, parts of South America as well as western Europe.
“What’s typically done in these rituals, is that the rooster is eaten, unless it’s a sickness or death rite,” added Greco.
“Seeing as there was something labeled ‘cemetery dirt’ in the bag, and obviously the birds being in tact, we think it was some kind of death rite.”