Two South Carolina women have been arrested on charges pertaining to illegal possession and inhumane treatment of wildlife
Authorities arrested two South Carolina women after finding several deer, more than 200 squirrels, a nutria, and other wild animals in their mobile home.
Investigators said the squirrels and other mammals were kept in small cages, but some were roaming freely in the double-wide mobile home.
Right now, our number one concern is the welfare of these animals, Emily Cope, deputy director of the wildlife and freshwater fisheries division for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, told ABC Columbia. It's a very challenging situation to deal with, mainly because of the sheer number of animals that were being kept on this site, and the deplorable conditions that existed there. We are working with Animal Control to determine the best way to move forward on this, and the help we've gotten from local veterinarians has been invaluable.
The Lee County Office of Animal Control assisted the SCDNR at the scene.
Laura Ross and Nicole Lafaivre were arrested on charges including illegal possession of white-tailed deer, inhumane treatment of animals, and illegal importation/possession of non-native wildlife species.
Nutria, which are an invasive species, can damage vegetation and bodies of water if introduced to a new area.
SCDNR takes the inhumane treatment of animals very seriously, Col. Chisolm Frampton, SCDNR deputy director for law enforcement, told ABC Columbia. It's heartbreaking when our officers encounter a situation like this, and we greatly appreciate the assistance of the Lee County Sheriff's Office and all of the other agencies and individuals involved yesterday. It's important for us to be clear that this kind of treatment of wildlife will not be tolerated in South Carolina.
SCDNR says the animals may be released back into the wild if they are proven to be disease-free after undergoing testing by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine.