VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Virginia Beach SPCA’s Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit has been suspended after the failing to properly comply with the permit’s conditions, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
The suspension stems from the shooting of a bald eagle earlier this month. Staff at the Virginia Beach SPCA said they were forced to euthanize Camellia, a 7-year-old bald eagle, because his injuries were so severe.
In a letter to the SPCA, the VDGIF says the SPCA also failed to properly contact the VDGIF Crime Line, failed to properly contact the VDGIF Permits Section and failed to properly contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service within 24 hours of receiving the eagle, which violates the Wildlife Rehabilitation permit conditions.
The permit is suspended effective immediately and will remain suspended for the remainder of the permit year, which lasts until January 31, 2018.
The SPCA can continue the rehabilitation of any wildlife currently in their care. However, they are not allowed to take in any new or additional wildlife requiring rehabilitation.
They can apply for renewal of their permit effective February 1, 2018.
The VDGIF says the SPCA has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of the date of the letter, which was written on May 17.
The SPCA has issued a statement in response to the situation. In the statement, they say they will be appealing the decision:
“The Virginia Beach SPCA deeply regrets a recent mistake having to do with the reporting of an injured bald eagle to authorities. This was an honest mistake made by a staff member who was a permitted wildlife rehabilitator trained in reporting requirements. While this mistake should not have happened, it was strictly a reporting error. The eagle received appropriate and compassionate treatment while in our care.
Thanks to our staff members’ wildlife rehabilitation permits through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and US Fish and Wildlife Services, the VBSPCA has assisted with the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of wildlife since the late 1990’s. The state permits have now been temporarily suspended due to the reporting errors.
The Virginia Beach SPCA is the largest provider of wildlife rehabilitation in the region. Last year the Virginia Beach SPCA, through its staff and vast network of volunteers, helped 2,600 injured and orphaned wildlife animals in need.
The VBSPCA has been helping wildlife for more than 20 years, and staff members have never previously been found in violation of state or federal wildlife rehabilitation permit conditions. We do not receive any federal, state or city government funding for our wildlife services and must raise the funds needed to fulfill our mission.
The suspension of all of our staff members’ wildlife rehabilitation permits until until January 31, 2018 precludes our organization’s ability to operate as a permitted wildlife rehabilitation facility.
The VBSPCA is taking immediate steps to appeal the disciplinary action taken by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Suspension of permits is at their discretion, and we look forward to resolution of this issue. We hope to be able to return to our life-saving rehabilitation of wildlife very soon.”