Pet Talk: Don’t bring Bambi home

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By Angela Clendenin

We’ve all done it before. You see a cute, seemingly hungry animal in the wild and instantly start thinking of names and working out how you will care for your new pet. But while having a pet deer may seem like a novel idea at first, feeding and caring for wildlife can be not only dangerous for you and the animal, but in many cases it is also against the law.
“Wildlife may carry a number of diseases and parasites that can be easily transmitted to humans,” said Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, Clinical Associate Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM) and director of the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center. “Small creatures like foxes and skunks should never be handled because they are known to be carriers of the rabies virus.”
In many cases, it is also against state and federal law to keep wildlife species as pets. “Multiple permits, such as those listed out on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website <http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/> , are needed in order to keep and foster wildlife,” said Blue-McLendon. “These permits are usually reserved for educational facilities, zoos, and rehabilitators.”

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