by Anai Rhoads
Although this warning seems obvious, many still attempt to approach wild animals to either feed them, pet them or even capture them. This is somewhat understandable because who hasn’t seen a baby bird and wanted to rescue it? As sweet as some of these gestures of goodwill are, you could be putting yourself and the life of the youngster in danger.
Every State has abundant wildlife, even as America’s cities are growing and encroaching on their habitats. In such cases we sometimes see wild critters acclimate themselves into their ever-changing environment. This, of course, is unnatural despite the circumstances.
In Pennsylvania alone, a plethora of species may be found. Just like us, they are now taking their little ones out to enjoy the warmer weather. In the coming weeks, the Key Stone State will begin to see more young birds, raccoon, rabbits, deer and others begin to make their appearance. Often you will see a lone baby without its Mother and assume he/she has been abandoned – keep in mind, this is often not the case.
“Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal is not an orphan or abandoned and the best thing you can do is to leave it alone,” advises Calvin W. DuBrock , who directs the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management.
Although not a tactic we humans employ, parent wild animals often leave their young while the they venture off to forage for food. The young have their own defense mechanisms and naturally use a tactic called the “hider strategy,” where they will remain motionless and and even carefully hide in surrounding cover while their mothers use themselves draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away.
“While it may appear as if the adults are abandoning their young, in reality, this is just the animal using its natural instincts to protect its young,” DuBrock said. “Also, young animals often have camouflaging color patterns to avoid being detected by predators.
We have a strained over-population of domestic animals in need of homes, yet for whatever reason – people still love to capture wild animals in attempt to tame them. The most common species-capture is the bird, as they seem to leave the fledglings on the ground. The risk of disease is higher than people realize, however.
“Wild animals are not meant to be pets, and we must all resist our well-meaning and well-intentioned urge to want to care for wildlife. Taking wildlife from its natural settings and into your home may expose or transmit wildlife diseases to people or domestic animals. Wildlife also may carry parasites – such as fleas, ticks or lice – that you wouldn’t want infesting you, your family, your home or your pets.”
DuBrock also noted that, each year, people ignore this advice by taking wildlife into their homes and then are urged to undergo treatment for possible exposure to various wildlife-borne diseases, such as rabies.
Aside from the health implications, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection Director Rich Palmer said that the agency also is concerned with humans handling wildlife overall.
“Habituating wildlife to humans is a serious concern, because if wildlife loses its natural fear of humans it can pose a public safety risk,” Palmer said. “For example, a few years ago, a yearling, six-point buck attacked and severely injured two people. Our investigation revealed that a neighboring family had illegally taken the deer into their home and fed it as a fawn. This family continued to feed the deer right up until the time of the attack.
“This particular incident was the subject of numerous news stories around the state, and serves as a fitting example of the possible consequences that can stem from feeding or simply getting too close to wildlife.”
Under Pennsylvania state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal.
“Under no circumstances will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal,” Palmer said. “While residents love to view wildlife and are very compassionate, they must enjoy wildlife from a distance and allow nature to run its course.”
Any “high risk” rabies vector species confiscated after human contact must be euthanized and tested; it cannot be returned to the wild. Though any mammal may carry rabies, species identified are skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and groundhogs. Some animals carry rabies and display no obvious symptoms until the latter stages.
People can get rabies from the saliva of a rabid animal if they are bitten or scratched, or if the saliva gets into the person’s eyes, mouth or a fresh wound. The last human rabies fatality in Pennsylvania was a 12‑year‑old Lycoming County boy who was overcome by it in 1984.
“Except for some species of bats, populations of all other rabies vector species are thriving,” Palmer said. “Therefore, to protect public health and safety, it only makes sense to put down an animal for testing, rather than risk relocating a potentially rabid animal, and to answer the question of whether any people were exposed to the rabies virus.”
A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators for Pennsylvania may be found here for those who find wildlife and find themselves needing assistance.
If you are unable to identify a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the animal is found so that you can be referred to the appropriate licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Region office contact information can be found on the agency’s web site.
“All along the route, the boys are very, very vulnerable, they are robbed. They are kidnapped”
As the U.S. military continues its exodus from Afghanistan, the long war has caused another exodus few know about in the U.S. Thousands of mostly teenage boys have fled their war-torn country to embark on a 10,000-mile trek to Europe that most will not complete — many because they die along the route. Anderson Cooper reports on one of the largest child migrations in modern times on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, May 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Ali Hassan is one of the lucky ones. After a four-year journey on which he nearly died several times, this enterprising 15-year-old Afghan boy lives a better life in Sweden, where he and others are given room, board and schooling. To get there Afghans ride under trucks, in secret compartments in vans and make dangerous water crossings. Ali Hassan almost froze to death in a refrigerated truck. “Two days, two nights and four hours,” he tells Cooper of his ordeal in the cold truck that was on a ferry from Greece to Italy. He says he was wearing only jeans and a T-shirt. “I can’t shake my hand. My foot. On that time, also, I was think that maybe I will die.”
But for every Ali Hassan, there are several other boys who didn’t make it to Sweden. Many died as stowaways on dangerous trips, some were turned into sex slaves or got diverted in menial jobs trying to earn the money to pay smugglers to take them on the next leg of the journey. Hassan said his life was threatened by smugglers. 60 Minutes spoke to one in Pakistan who said 35 percent, at most, would make it to Europe.
“If, on the way, any child dies, we won’t notify their parents for one or two months. Then after time has passed, the pain will not be that great,” the smuggler says. “We try to convince parents that dying is a natural thing and it’s not our fault.” Afghan parents pay up to $15,000 to have their children smuggled to Europe, an amount often the sum of their life savings.
Alixandra Fazzina is a British photojournalist and author who has spent five years chronicling the travails of these refugees, who disappear frequently and often anonymously. “All along the route, the boys are very, very vulnerable, they are robbed. They are kidnapped,” she tells Cooper. They will become the victims of their smugglers and their middle men. “They could be trafficked as sex workers, maybe they simply disappear. Nobody’s very sure,” says Fazzina.
Smugglers are usually paid to get the kids just to Greece; they are on their own from there. Europe can be hard on the young refugees as well. Says Dr. Henry Ascher, chair of the Swedish Pediatric Group on Child Refugees, “I’ve seen children with broken arms and legs that have been beaten and abused in European countries,” he says. The children have been through a lot, not just on the road, but back home, where they may have seen the horrors of war and the deaths of loved ones. “They have severe nightmares…re-experiencing the most horrible things that they have experienced,” Ascher tells Cooper.
In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?
Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological–psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.
French child psychiatrists don’t use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM.According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system as a resistance to the influence of the DSM-3. This alternative was the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L’Enfant et de L’Adolescent), first released in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000. The focus of CFTMEA is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children’s symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.
To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child’s social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to “pathologize” much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.
The French holistic, psycho-social approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. Clinicians who work with troubled children in this country—not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child’s problem. In the United States, the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children’s behavior.
And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, Bringing up Bébé. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States.
From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.” Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies “cry it out” if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.
French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.
As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.
Copyright © Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D.
Marilyn Wedge is the author of Pills are not for Preschoolers: A Drug-Free Approach for Troubled Kids