It was shortly after viewing yet another Florida black bear fall victim to a motor vehicle, that a concerned group of individuals formed the Florida not-for-profit group, P.A.W.S. - Peoples Alliance for Wildlife Survival, Inc., and PAWS International. The original group of incorporators, frustrated by current state and federal bureaucracy, that unintentionally inhibits medical treatment and rehabilitation of injured wildlife, studied other perils of this long-suffering “umbrella species mammal”. It quickly became obvious that the problems facing this majestic king of the forest are shared by most other indigenous forest wildlife. Other affected species include the red fox, the eastern wolf, the eastern coyote, raccoons, fox squirrels, the Florida panther, the Key deer, the American alligator, sea turtles, the gopher tortoise, red-tailed hawks, the indigo snake, the sand crane, herons, coots, ospreys, wood ducks and others.
Factors attributed to wildlife suffering, and to population decline, include poaching, road related injuries, illegal dumping, pesticide and fertilizer misuse or overuse, drought related starvation, deforestation, unchecked development resulting in the narrowing or loss of natural habitat, as well as habituation, resulting from increasingly frequent encounters with humans. For the original incorporators of P.A.W.S., each of these issues seemed addressable for the meaningful conservation of all Florida wildlife, including the threatened “umbrella species”, Florida black bear, whose population has dwindled from 12000 – 15000 just four decades ago, to a meager 1800 – 2000, today.
Jurisdiction over a wounded major mammal in Florida lies largely with the Florida Wildlife Commission, (F.W.C.). Limited funding and bureaucracy related to dealings with injured wildlife strangles FWC officers and other well-meaning officials. For the most part, the fate of a bear hit and injured by an automobile, but not immediately killed, will be in the hands of an officer with few options available. The most likely scenario is that the officer will observe the bear from a distance, and if it is determined that the animal may have significant life-threatening injuries, the officer will likely “dart”, or sedate the animal, with the end result being euthanasia and disposal. Given the black bears current designation of “threatened”, and considering a rapidly diminishing population, other options simply must be explored, devised, funded and utilized.
The Peoples Alliance for Wildlife Survival, Inc., utilizing various methods of fundraising, agency coordination, educational programs, and a largely all-volunteer membership, will strive to:
·Coordinate with state, federal and local agencies to facilitate the establishment and implementation of a statewide first-responder network of qualified veterinarians, biologists, animal therapists, rehabilitative specialists, and qualified volunteers, to render emergency rescue and medical assistance and rehabilitation to injured Florida wildlife, with an end goal of reintroducing rehabilitated animals back into the Florida ecosystem. ·Establish and implement programs to augment natural food and water supplies and resources during periods of drought, and other periods of under-production of natural food sources. ·Provide volunteer working support to qualified statistical and academic research studies involving like-minded goals of conservation of forest wildlife and resources. ·Utilize specialists and volunteers to inventory forest wildlife, including movement and migratory patterns, and the recording of statistical data that will aid in conservation efforts. ·Work in conjunction with state, federal and local authorities to facilitate cleanup and removal of trash and illegally dumped materials from within Florida’s forests and contiguous public and private lands where wildlife might come in contact with life-threatening or roaming-pattern altering obstacles and/or debris. ·Purchase or lease properties contiguous to Florida’s forests, for uses including additional habitat for existing wildlife, and as areas for rehabilitation of injured wildlife and reintroduction of rehabilitated animals back into the Florida ecosystem. Other uses would include specialized efforts to de-habituate previously habituated wildlife with an end goal of reintroducing the animals back into the wild. ·Purchase or lease large parcels or tracts of Florida land, other than parcels contiguous to Florida forests, when said parcels might be considered to be of significant value to conservation efforts. ·Facilitate and implement wildlife education programs geared toward Florida homeowners, ranchers, farmers and beekeepers, with a goal of debunking myths about various species, as well as outlining methods to co-exist and to minimize and mitigate threats to affected individuals and animals ·Design and implement various and innovative youth programs in conjunction with state, federal, charitable and private sources, with an end goal of educating future generations about proper methods to conserve Florida’s most precious wildlife resources. ·Establish a secondary network of “compensated” providers to treat, and/or aid in rehabilitation of injured wildlife, when typically volunteered services are not otherwise available or practical. ·Always conduct our efforts in an environmentally conscious way. ·Maintain impeccable integrity, transparency and accountability in the day-to-day operation of our charity, and the handling of assets managed by it. ·After direct expenses, to utilize at least 95% of donated funds towards the goals of our, and other like-minded organizations. ·Accept state or federal grant funds, when available, to assist in the endeavors outlined in our mission statement, when, said funds are provided without condition(s) deemed contrary to our organizational goals. ·Without exception, to maintain a roster of non-compensated corporate officers and board members to conduct operations pursuant to the By-laws of our organization. ·To allow open membership and volunteer status to all U.S. citizens, without regard to age, sex, race, religious affiliation or national origin, who share our goals, exhibit high integrity, and a passion to participate in the protection, rehabilitation and conservation of Florida’s wildlife.
copyright-2006 - PAWS-2MS07/2006 - all rights reserved