Wildlife collection service suspended, says Quercus

by INÊS LOPES [email protected]

An environmental organisation is accusing the authorities of encouraging citizens to illegally transport injured wild animals to rehabilitations centres.

Quercus says the SEPNA department of the GNR had been responsible for collecting and transporting injured wild fauna to rehabilitation centres since 2002, however, it decided to suspend the service in December 2011 as a cost-cutting measure.

Each year, the SEPNA, which stands for Serviço de Protecção da Natureza e do Ambiente (or Nature and Environment Protection Service), collected thousands of animals, some protected endangered species, as part of a national network to collect and rehabilitate sick, injured or orphaned wild animals.

These animals are then taken to one of the 10 wildlife rehabilitation centres in the country, some state-run, others non-governmental environmental organisations managed by volunteers.

However, Quercus says it has received many complaints from citizens claiming the GNR had suggested they take the animals to the centres themselves, something the association says is illegal.

In a statement on their website, Quercus says that only the GNR SEPNA team or Ministry of the Environment technicians are allowed to transport wild animals due to the legal implications involved, particularly in the case of animals that have been injured, poisoned or captured.

Quercus is now calling on the government to find a solution to the problem, as the association says it is the obligation of the State to protect wild species, particularly endangered ones.

The Algarve Resident contacted the SEPNA unit for a comment and a spokesman said the service had not been suspended and that it continued collecting “certain species of wildlife but not all”. The spokesman could not identify which they were and at the time of going to press, the information was still unavailable.

The environmental association asks citizens to report further cases where the GNR refuses to collect wild animals.

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