Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is pleased to announce that Roscoe, The Heard's Educational Ambassador Northern raccoon, has been granted a permanent injunction preventing him from being euthanized by local animal control officials. The Heard was represented by Attorney Paul Sheldon of the Collin County office of Strasburger & Price. Roscoe has been the subject of a legal dispute between Heard Natural Science Museum and City of McKinney after he bit a care giver during a routine health inspection check. McKinney Animal Services seized Roscoe following the bite, citing various State of Texas statutes governing rabies control in the state. These statutes mandate that species that are at high risk of carrying rabies be euthanized and tested for rabies after biting a human. The Heard has provided this non free-ranging, imprinted, wild native animal with the best veterinary care possible-including the administration of an approved rabies vaccine that has been shown to be effective in numerous studies and is used by many states to control rabies in free-ranging Northern raccoons.
Raccoons, along with skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes, are considered high-risk rabies vector species in the United States. Texas statutes do not account for the availability of effective rabies vaccine for native wild raccoons that are held in captivity by facilities that possess Educational Display Permits granted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Heard Natural Science Museum plans to work closely with lawmakers to amend these statutes to account for animals kept in captivity that clearly do not have rabies given their contained environment and excellent health care rendered by medical experts. The Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is hopeful that such efforts will prevent these circumstances from causing any future destruction of healthy animals that are maintained in USDA and TPWD approved facilities that have been issued applicable permits to possess native animals for educational purposes.
Background on Roscoe
Roscoe, a Northern raccoon, is a perfect example of why no one should take a wild animal home and attempt to turn it into a pet. Roscoe, like other wild animals held in captivity while very young, lost his ability to independently care for himself. More importantly, he also lost his natural fear of humans.
Keeping a native, wild animal in the State of Texas without the proper Texas Parks and Wildlife Department permits is illegal. Because Roscoe is imprinted and conditioned to expect food and care from humans, he can never be released into the wild. Roscoe is not in a position to have contact with, and poses no threat to, the public.
About Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
The Heard was founded in 1967 by Bessie Heard. Miss Heard was 80 years old when she saw the need to preserve a place where future generations could experience nature. Today, the Heard's mission of bringing nature and people together is carried out through education, particularly of young people, which emphasizes an appreciation of nature and its conservation. For more information, visit heardmuseum.org.