Following a January inspection at the Lusby residence of Carole VanWie, 72, who is a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) executed a search warrant at her home Monday and confiscated 67 animals, including nine that were dead.
According to NRP Public Information Officer Lauren Holly, “According to officers, the house and the animals’ environment were in poor condition. Due to the officer’s observations and concerns for the welfare of the animals inside the residence, a search warrant was obtained and served on February 13.”
According to Holly, “all charges will be filed at a later date.”
The animals confiscated were:
43 live rabbits (domestic)
4 dead rabbits (domestic)
2 live dogs (domestic)
1 dead squirrel (wild)
2 live opossums (wild)
1 dead, eastern cottontail rabbit (wild)
2 live, eastern cottontail rabbits (wild)
3 dead ducklings (wild)
1 live cardinal (wild)
1 live morning dove (wild)
4 live mallards (wild)
3 live Canada geese (wild)
Holly explained all domestic animals were transferred to animal control for medical evaluations, while the wild animals were transferred to a “Maryland-licensed rehabilitation specialist for additional care.”
Kathleen Woods, president of the Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (MWRA) and executive director of Phoenix Wildlife Center said she received several of the confiscated wild animals and others were distributed among other Maryland permitted rehabilitation facilities.
“What a sad day for rehabilitators,” said Woods. “We reach out to every permitted rehabilitator in Maryland on a monthly basis, whether they’re members of MWRA or not, and offer support – monetary support for food, vet bills, continuing education. We are there for our state rehabilitators but they have to reach out.”
Woods said Van Wie never reached out.
This isn’t the first time Van Wie has had these issues.
According to a 2012 article in the BayNet.com “On Aug. 8 at the behest of the Investigative Department of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office’s Animal Control Unit executed a search and seizure warrant at Vanwie’s property and seized over 222 rabbits. Officials from PETA had contacted Calvert authorities about the conditions at Bunny Magic.”
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a permitting process for wildlife rehabilitators in Maryland, as well as a code of regulations.
For violations of the code, state or federal laws/regulations, DNR can revoke a rehabilitator’s permit.
Update (8/15/2023) – The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office posted the following update:
“VanWie Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty
On Monday, August 15, 2023, Carol Badart VanWie, 77 of Lusby, pleaded guilty in Calvert County District Court to multiple charges involving violations of Maryland’s animal cruelty laws. Ms. VanWie was found to have housed more than 40 rabbits and other creatures in unsanitary and inhumane conditions at her nonprofit venture, Bunny Magic and Wildlife Rabbit Rescue, in Lusby.
VanWie was given a suspended jail sentence, placed on probation, and ordered not to possess any animals. In addition, she reimbursed Calvert County the sum of $67,000 for the care and feeding of the animals that were confiscated from her property.
Calvert County State’s Attorney Robert Harvey wishes to commend Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher J. Monte for his handling of this case. Credit also goes to Officer Allison Higgs of the Maryland Natural Resources Police who initially investigated the case and brought the charges against Ms. VanWie. “
Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a bird of prey rescuer.
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