Squirrel nurse bust in Jersey shocker

In Howell, N.J., Maria Vaccarella has been fined $500 by the state for “keeping captive game animals” after nursing a squirrel and her young that had fallen out of a tree. A spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife said pictures of the animals had circulated on social media and that the state was “obligated to follow up” when “contacted about the social media posts by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.” [NJ.com]


  • Is a squirrel really a game animal in New Jersey? Those days are long over. Unless the code is anticipating a coming dystopia.

  • mens rea?

  • And this is not a case we’re focusing any energy on. [Bob Considine, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman] said.

    I suggest that Mr. Considine contact the Department of Energy as New Jersey has figured out a way to monitor social media, investigate, show up at the woman’s home, accept the squirrels from the woman, issue a ticket and appear in court without expending any energy.

  • “Is a squirrel really a game animal in New Jersey?”

    If it’s still legal to hunt squirrels, whether for food or for shits and giggles, then they are still a game animal.


    The answer is yes.

  • Hey, I think I found the problem!:
    ” licensed wildlife rehabilitator”

    • There is actually a reason for licensing wildlife rehabilitators, namely to see that wild animals are cared for by people who know how to enable them to return to the wild. Many people with good intentions don’t know how to care properly for wild animals, and if they do, will still care for them in a way which results in them becoming dependent on humans. A secondary reason is that some wild animals are dangerous (e.g. bobcats, cougars, wolves, bears) and should not be kept by people who do not have certain expertise and facilities.

      • “A secondary reason is that some wild animals are dangerous (e.g. bobcats, cougars, wolves, bears”


      • Of course squirrels are dangerous. Ever see Christmas Vacation?

  • The only squirrel I have ever known to fall out of a tree was when I was five. Its fall had nothing to do with the rock I threw at it because I wanted to pet it. Suspicious.

  • Part of the problem here is that the prosecutors have lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to minimize the domestication of wild animals by restricting the care of sick and injured animals to people who will try to enable them to return to the wild rather than domesticate them. In this case, as the article states, no licensed rehabilitator would take the squirrel. The choices were therefore to put the squirrel out to die or for the person who found it to care for it. The state’s purpose was surely better advanced by the unlicensed person taking care of the squirrel.

  • ironically it is perfectly legal to trap and kill them as pests.