A recent raid by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that resulted in the deaths of young deer and elk at For Heaven’s Sake Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Rochester has not gone unnoticed by other rescue workers in the state.
That raid on Nov. 9 has drawn sharp criticism directed at the WDFW after the action resulted in the euthanization of three deer fawns and one elk calf that were deemed to be too friendly for wild release. Jasmine Fletcher Glaze is one person who has decided to take a stand alongside For Heaven’s Sake owners Dave and Claudia Supensky in an attempt to carve out protections for wildlife rehabilitators in the future.
Several decades ago, Glaze founded a rehabilitation center out of her home in Graham known as A Soft Place to Land. She has spent the years in between caring for a variety of critters both large and small. Now though, Glaze is singularly focused on helping her fellow animal rescue workers.
Glaze allowed her rehabilitation permit to lapse on Dec. 1 and noted that her decision was a direct result of the action taken against the Supenskys in Rochester. She says her intention is to work for change at the state level to protect both rescued animals and facility operators.
Adam Karp has been retained as legal counsel for the Supenskys and has noted that the rehabilitation center did not violate any of the state's rehab laws, which include not keeping more than 23 deer or elk and releasing all ungulates within 180 days. The Supenskys have explained that the deer killed by WDFW had only recently been weaned and moved into a forested area and that the even younger elk calf arrived with an already strong bond to humans and had not yet been weaned off of a milk bottle. Those circumstances combined to make the animals appear more friendly than normal.
The Supenskys also told The Chronicle that the deer were so frightened by approaching WDFW officers that they fled to the nearby woods and eventually had to be lured with apples and then shot with tranquilizer darts in order to be rounded up. The Supenskys claim that in all their years working with animals they have never failed to successfully release a deer back into the wild.
"WDFW did not provide (For Heaven’s Sake) and these slain fawns and calf the opportunity to reach physical, behavioral, and psychological capability for release before seizing and euthanizing them,” Karp was quoted as saying in a press release from A Soft Place to Land.
Glaze says that the heavy handed action at For Heaven’s Sake is not the first time that the WDFW has unfairly targeted animals at rehabilitation centers for lethal action despite other non-lethal options being available. Glaze noted that Dan Boeholt, a property owner near Montesano, had previously offered WDFW the opportunity to relocate the deer onto 65 acres of his land and was disgusted when he found out the animals had instead been euthanized.
Others have taken notice too, including 19th District state Rep. Jim Walsh, who wondered in a public Facebook post, "With all of the problems it has, WDFW makes a priority of killing Bambi?"
WDFW Wildlife Program Assistant Director Eric Gardner has said that the agency is currently looking for alternative courses of action that avoid euthanasia, including the prospect of relocation. Those alternatives could mean the difference between life and death for the 11 fawns remaining at For Heaven’s Sake that are still facing the prospect of euthanization.
So far, Karp has only been able to obtain a non-binding agreement with the WDFW that says they will hold off on additional action to the remaining deer at For Heaven’s Sake until spring.
“The state and my client have reached an agreement. It’s not in writing yet,” explained Karp. “We have reached in principle an agreement that the state will leave the remaining deer with my clients until March of next year and then reevaluate them for release capability.”
Karp added that, “Really, it just provides that the deer are safe and they're not going to be killed until additional dialogue occurs.”
Glaze says that in the interim it is important for the public to voice their concerns about the actions of the WDFW.
"Until there's due process protection there's nothing to stop this from happening again in the future," said Glaze in the release. "We need to make sure enforcement actions are not at the whim of WDFW with no accountability or official process to help prevent abuse and overreach."
Glaze says that once she has helped to attain the changes needed to provide assurances to her fellow rehab workers that she will return to working with animals in need.
“I'll most definitely be back to rehabbing," Glaze said in the release. "I love it more than anything."
The WDFW Commission is scheduled to meet in Olympia on Dec. 8-9 and public comments will be taken on a number of issues. Those meetings will be held in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, beginning at 8:30 a.m. each day. The press release also noted that citizens who wish to have their voice heard can contact Governor Jay Inslee by phone at 360-902-4111 or via Twitter at @GovInslee.
Jasmine Fletcher Glaze asks anyone who has legal advice or other assistance to offer to contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.