Expert: Wild Animals Belong in the Wild

Updated: Friday, 19 Nov 2010, 7:01 PM EST
Published : Friday, 19 Nov 2010, 6:47 PM EST

By: PAUL YATES/myfoxatlanta

ATLANTA – There was a warning Friday for people who try to keep wild animals as pets. On Thursday, authorities charged a Newton County man after raccoons attacked his daughter.

Newton County investigators said the raccoons could go in and out of the house through open windows.

Michael Ellis has spent years trying to return wild animals that people have tried to domesticate to the wild.

Ellis is the director of the non-profit group, Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort or AWARE. Ellis said the attacks involving wild animals cared for as pets are sadly familiar.

Michael Wayne Cannon was charged with holding game without a permit and unlawful possession of wildlife after his 9-month-old daughter was attacked by two raccoons that had earlier been bottle-fed when the animals were brought to the family’s home in June.

Ellis said raccoons and other animals may appear to have been domesticated when young, but he says they never become tame.

AWARE is devoted to returning rescued animals to the wild if possible.

Currently, Ellis is caring for a young Bald Eagle that was found with injured wings. A bullet was lodged in one of the eagle’s wings.

The two misdemeanor charges in the Newton County case were brought by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The maximum penalty on each charge is a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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