MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) - Wildlife rehabilitators across Alabama are preparing for a legal fight against the state government over what they call a species ban implemented in September.
That's when conservation officials changed the rehabbers' guidelines, forbidding the rehab of raccoons, opossum, skunk, fox, coyote, bats and feral pigs.
WHNT NEWS 19 has been looking into the inconsistency of state guidelines across Alabama and the newest move that has outraged volunteer rehabbers as well as concerned citizens.
While the latest change to the guidelines puts all rehabbers under the same rules and regulations, rehabbers are not happy with the changes.
Wildlife rehabilitators say they do it because they love animals. They do this kind of work to save animals that need help.
They use their own money and resources to rehabilitate injured or orphaned wild animals and send them back to their natural habitat.
Now, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has ordered rehabbers to cease helping seven species of animals and, instead, euthanize them.
"The public brings us an animal that they think they are saving and then we have to tell them we're supposed to euthanize it?" said Janet Stratman, a rehabber from Madison County. "That's not what we do."
"I'm not a cruel, heartless person," said Chuck Sykes, Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. He ordered the new guidelines.
"I understand this is an emotionally charged issue," he said. "I'm an animal lover just like they are. I just look at it from a different perspective."
Rehabbers, however, say when they've reached out to him and other officials to question their decision, they've gotten no response from officials to numerous phone calls and emails.
WHNT NEWS 19 took action and went to Montgomery to get some answers about the motives behind the move, and the possibility of the species ban being overturned.
Also, see the results of our poll below. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says it considers raccoons the biggest threat for rabies in the state. Before our report aired, we asked which animal you considered the biggest threat. Here's how you voted.