Today marks the opening of dove season in the state of California.

During any hunting season, the Humane Society of Imperial County receives several calls about wildlife found severely injured and in need of some major medical attention.

Although the Humane Society of Imperial County does occasionally take in rabbits and guinea pigs, and we have even been known to adopt out a few rats and turtles, unfortunately. there are some animals we just are not able to care for.

Because of legal reasons and because of the simple fact that our shelter is not set up to take in or care for wildlife, we strongly suggest that it is best to leave it to the experts who have the experience and knowledge in appropriately handling and caring for these animals.

The folks at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge are the people to turn to should any questions pertaining to wildlife arise.

During the warmer months, we also receive several calls from concerned citizens who have found some type of wild animal. Most often than not, these animals that are found are either some type of young wild bird or they are an injured adult bird (such as pigeons, doves, mockingbirds, egrets and various species of owls, hawks, and other birds of prey).

Even though these animals may appear to be weak from illness or injury, they can still be very dangerous and may seriously harm the person who is trying to help them. For some people, it is instinctive to try to help an animal in need. These animals are wild and do not understand that you are trying to help them and may see you as a predator who is trying to eat them. At that point the animal will muster up every ounce of strength it has left to defend itself; and believe us when we say that these animals can pack a powerful punch!

Aside from birds, there are many other types of wildlife that reside in the outer parts of the Imperial Valley. Some of these animals include coyotes, skunks, bats, raccoons, bobcats, desert tortoises and various types of other reptiles. Although these animals are beautiful and it would be an amazing experience to be able to touch one, they are still very dangerous.

Wild animals such as bats, raccoons, coyotes and skunks have been known to carry diseases that are dangerous to humans. One very well-known disease that we have all heard of is rabies. Rabies is very deadly and could prove to be fatal if the disease is contracted through the bite of an animal and not dealt with properly through immediate medical care.

Aside from the fact that some of these animals can pose a danger to our health and some of them can seriously harm us physically, almost all of them are illegal to capture and have in your possession. Some of these animals are migratory, are protected or even endangered. Because these animals are so vital to the ecosystem and because they can be dangerous, the law has prohibited the capture and possession of them to ensure a positive balance in nature and for our well-being. Having these animals in your possession could result in some extremely heavy fines or possible imprisonment.

It is always important to keep in mind that no matter how much we feel for our wildlife, sometimes leaving them in the hands of those who know them well is what is best for them.

If you happen to come across any wildlife that may need any kind of help or wildlife that needs to be removed from a home or business, please contact the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge at (760) 348-5278, or the Imperial County Fish and Wildlife Department at (760) 348-5278.

 Devon Apodaca is the executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.

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