CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman who rescues injured, sick or abandoned wild animals — such as foxes, beavers, raccoons, squirrels, ducks, geese and others — is being forced to clear out the animals or move because her 16-year-old wildlife rehabilitation practice is not allowed by the city’s zoning code in the single-family residential neighborhood.
“If you take me out, who’s going to do it?” asked Amber Oldfield, 38, who lives in northeast Cedar Rapids and is a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
She recently took the matter to the City Council, urging leaders during a public comment period to make an exception for her service.
Those questioning the city’s recognition of the need for wildlife rehabilitators should look no further than a recent overhaul of the zoning code, which expanded areas where the practice can take place and designated other areas where one could apply for a conditional use permit, city officials said. But Oldfield’s neighborhood is not among them.
“It is a violation of the zoning code,” said Sandi Fowler, deputy city manager, adding Oldfield is not being rushed out.
Oldfield, her attorney and city staff have discussed options for removing the animals from her property but have not set a timeline. City officials also have pointed out other areas where she could move and operate legally within the city limits, they said.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources also is discussing the issue with the city.
“We are all working together to find a resolution for this — for all parties,” said Ron Lane, an Iowa DNR conservation officer for this area. “It sounds like the city is willing to give her time. I don’t think anyone is looking to be the bad guy or make someone move tomorrow.”
Lane said those with wildlife rehabilitation licenses still must comply with local ordinances.