We now have a “baker’s dozen” of baby skunks in rehab here at NY Wildlife Rescue. These seven were brought in on the 19th of June, after their mother was killed by a car. They join the group already being raised for release. You can read about some of them, and about skunks in general, in this previous post.
This group appears to be seven or eight weeks old, and will be kept safe and well cared for until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
Whenever we post pictures of cute baby animals on social media, there are always a few people who ask if they can adopt them, or share stories of their Uncle So-and-So who had a pet of the species.
Please understand that these are wild animals. They are not, nor should they ever be, pets. It is against the law to keep almost all native wild animals as pets, with penalties and fines when those laws are broken. Wildlife rehabilitators study for, train for, and have to pass licensing tests in order to care for these animals. Even with their licenses, there is a very limited time frame wherein the animal can be raised or rehabilitated, and then must be released. Any animals that would not be able to survive in the wild must, by law, either be transferred to a special educational permit … or euthanized.
In addition, certain species require special permits and specially built and inspected facilities. Among those are the Rabies Vector Species (for which a rehabber also has to be up to date on their rabies vaccinations), which, in New York, include bats, raccoons, and skunks. To obtain a Rabies Vector permit, you must take a special training course before you can apply.
Not only is it illegal to harbor wildlife as pets, it’s just not a smart idea. These are not domestic animals, and cannot be reliably tamed, even when raised by humans from tiny newborns. Eventually, their hormones, and their instincts, are going to take over. The cute, fluffy baby that sleeps with your kids and plays with the cat will become a dangerous handful.
It’s human nature to respond with “aw, how cute,” when a fluffy, adorable baby animal is seen. We truly feel gratitude to all our friends for caring, and for the love that is felt for these special beings. Wildlife should be admired and treasured — from afar. When the animals need help, that help should be given by those trained and licensed to do the job safely.