'These are not mistakes.These are deliberate, and it needs to stop'

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash. -- An animal shelter on Bainbridge Island is seeing more and more animals arriving with gunshot wounds, and the shelter's director says the disturbing trend needs to stop.

Caring citizens are finding the injured animals and bringing them to the West Sound Wildlife Shelter. The facility's director, who has seen so many of the gunshot wounds, said there's no excuse to shoot an animal without a permit.

Workers at the shelter treat more than 1,000 animals each year. Their goal is to get the critters back into the wild, but animals are being dropped off with gunshot wounds.

"I guess people are just more impatient lately. For some reason they're using a gun to solve all of their problems," said shelter director Mike Pratt.

Pratt believes people in the area are using guns as a quick solution for getting rid of animals they consider a nuisance. Last year he treated more than 50 animals with gun shot wounds, compared to just one or two in past years.

"These are not mistakes," he said. "These are deliberate, and it needs to stop."

Pratt said the shooters are using all types of firearms, from pellet guns to shotguns. And he said the shootings are happening throughout the region.

Karla Freimuth spent the last month caring for an injured crow she found in her yard.

"I didn't know the extent of the damage. I thought it was just a fledgling that had hurt his wing flying too much or flew into something and might have broke it or fractured it," she said.

She brought the crow to the shelter on Tuesday and learned that it had been shot. Pratt said the bird's injuries were so bad that it had to be euthanized.

"All life is valuable whether it's a little robin or a chicken or a crow or a coon," Freimuth said.

Shelter staff are now using an injured turkey vulture to educate others about the importance of wildlife.

"These animals are living, breathing creatures. They feel pain just like we do," Pratt said.

Pratt said many of the injured animals are protected under state and federal laws.