Chico resident Terry Duffert has been volunteering with the Bidwell Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for the past three years, shortly after finding a wounded crow that he nursed back to health, along with a woodpecker he took in after it fell from it's nest. Unlike the more than 75 birds Duffert has rescued and released, these birds both had injured wings which have kept them from being set free. He's since used both birds for therapeutic and educational purposes. " I take them to hospitals for therapy, and I take them to boy scouts and classrooms for education," said Duffert.
But recently, that all changed. Fish and Game paid him a visit at his home after being notified about the birds. Duffert says he gladly welcomed them in and showed the wardens where the birds lived, but they returned days later. " Fish and Game came back a week later, and came into my house without my request, just came in and they took two of my birds," explained Duffert.
Duffert hasn't seen either of his birds since February 2nd. He says Fish and Game told him there were strict rules about keeping wild animals as pets, and though he did have the right to rehabilitate animals, it only allowed him to keep wild animals for a short time. Duffert says he never knew about the guidelines and wanted to get a permit to keep his birds, but he was told permits are rarely given out. " I put a lot of my money and time into this to feed these animals and help them and it's for the public," explained Duffert.
Duffert has received several letters of support from local rehabilitation and hospice centers who say the birds were therapeutic for their clients. Since the incident he's also had his authority to rehabilitate animals in California revoked. Fish and Game says the main reason the birds were taken, was because they were being treated as pets. Fish and Game also says Duffert was not cited or fined.