Saturday, January 23, 2016

NJ Woman Unjustly Persecuted For Saving Baby Squirrels

A woman in New Jersey is facing fines up to $1000 and even possible jail time for an act of kindness that should be rewarded rather than punished.

Last July, Maria Vaccarella and her husband took in a pregnant female squirrel that they found injured, possible after being hit by a car. They fed the squirrel until she gave birth to four babies, two of which survived. When the mother squirrel ran away, leaving behind the infants, Ms. Vaccarella cared for the babies in her home. She contacted a wildlife rehabilitator, who advised her to keep the squirrels until spring, when they could be released back into the wild.

The problems started  when Ms. Vaccarella wrote about the squirrels, who she named George and Lola, on Facebook. Her post attracted the attention of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife officials, who came to her house in October, informed her that it was illegal to keep Eastern gray squirrels without a permit, and confiscated them. A month after that, she received a court summons with a $500 fine.

After recent publicity of this case and the appearance of an online petition, the State of New Jersey has offered Ms. Vaccarella a deal: she could plead guilty to the charges in return for dropping all fines, and just pay $35 in court costs. Ms. Vaccarella has courageously rejected the offer, stating "I can't plead guilty to saving a life. It's ludicrous." In response, the state has raised her fine from $500 to $1000, and threatened her with jail time. In addition, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has refused to give her any update on the fate of the squirrels.

If you agree that the State of New Jersey's persecution of Maria Vaccarella is unjust, you can click below to take action and sign the online petition on her behalf. Caring for helpless wildlife should be rewarded, not punished.

Read More: NJ 'squirrel mom' says she won't plead guilty 'to saving a life' |
I can’t plead guilty to saving a life. It’s ludicrous

Read More: NJ 'squirrel mom' says she won't plead guilty 'to saving a life' |