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Wildlife: Why Not Let Them Go

Published on: 2/17/2015 9:24 AM

The California Fish & Game Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 671.6 states:

“No person shall release into the wild without written permission of the commission (Fish and Game) any wild animal...”


This policy was designed to strike a balance between protecting native wildlife and the human and domestic animal populations.

Euthanasia, putting wildlife to sleep, is never a pleasant task but it is occasionally necessary. We hope that the following information will help you understand why the Santa Clara County Vector Control District’s Wildlife Management unit believes in humane euthanasia for trapped wildlife. It is important to remember that trapping is only done as a last resort. Problem wildlife is trapped ONLY when conflicts with man occur, i.e., property damage, health threats, or aggressive behavior. While relocation may seem humane, it isn’t. Relocation causes problems for both animals and humans.

Please Consider The Following:

Wildlife that has become “urbanized” has modified its behavior, becoming less wild. This increases the chance of interaction with humans and pets, thus raising the potential for danger and problems. The abundance of food (garbage, pet food, even PETS) and shelter (homes, decks, out buildings) in urban areas, shrinks the animals normally large home-range area. These “urbanized” animals learn to depend on man for food and shelter and often pass this behavior on to their young. When relocated, urban wildlife will seek out the familiar urban environment in order to survive, thus creating the old problem all over again in a new area. Animals which have been raised or have spent considerable time in urban areas are no longer able to successfully compete with the native wildlife and suffer high mortality rates (up to 95% in studies commissioned by the US Humane Society) due to starvation, confrontation, injury, etc. Relocating “urban” wildlife into rural areas stresses not only the relocated animal (usually fatally) but also the native wildlife. The carrying capacity (food, shelter, etc.) and the social structure of the native wildlife is disrupted and/or compromised. In most instances, wildlife move into an urban area because the rural area has reached its carrying capacity based on available food and shelter.

Domestic pet diseases are a constant threat to “urbanized” wildlife. Wildlife living in urban areas are exposed to many disease organisms found within the sewers or storm drains that they frequent. “Urbanized” wildlife may spread disease within the domestic animal population and if relocated, may carry disease back into the native wildlife population. There is also the increased risk of the spread or introduction of wild or “zoonotic” diseases into urban areas when relocated, “urbanized” wildlife tries to return to urban areas.

Although unpleasant, the humane euthanasia of trapped wildlife is necessary to minimize property damage and protect the health of established wildlife populations, domestic animals and man.