Wildlife Center of Virginia discusses policies on caring for invasive species

Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - An invasive species is an animal or plant that is non native to the ecosystem they residing in and can cause damage to the ecosystem, even the surrounding infrastructure, according to Alex Wehrung, Outreach Public Affairs Manager for the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Wehrung said the Wildlife Center’s policy on treating invasive species is a result of their permitting status through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources that allows them to care for wildlife, but the permit only extends to native species.

”We will admit them as patients but not for long term care. Usually in those circumstances those individual patients are those that are suffering greatly from a traumatic injury or sometimes they are really young individuals that have been orphaned and just wouldn’t survive on their own.” Wehrung said. “In those cases we do humanly euthanize those animals that arrive.”

Wehrung said the most common invasive species they see at the Wildlife Center are the European Starling and Red-Eared Slider.

“Our goal at the Wildlife Center is to be a teaching and research hospital for native wildlife. It is not just our legal permitting conditions that restrict us from caring for invasive species, it is the over all mission statement and our focus on native wildlife.” said Wehrung

Wehrung said that a common factor among all invasive species is that they sometimes out-compete native species.

“They are taking away resources from animals that otherwise would have access to them.” said Wehrung.

Wehrung said “If you find an invasive species that you think is in need of medical attention it might be good to take a step back and think objectively or think critically about that animal and its overall well-being because if it is admitted to the Wildlife Center we are legally required to euthanize it. "

Wehrung added that it is important to familiarize yourself with what animals are native and what animals are invasive.