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Mae the raccoon cannot return to Seattle family, judge rules

Mae will remain at a wildlife rehab center in Quilcene.

A raccoon seized from a West Seattle family last year will not be able to return home.

A hearing officer ruled Thursday that Mae the raccoon cannot return to the Greer family, a decision the family plans to appeal in superior court.

Mae was taken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) because raccoons are not legally allowed as pets.

The Greer family said they found Mae as an orphaned newborn and no wildlife rehab would take her.

WATCH: Greer family testifies in Mae trial

A WDFW officer came across the Greer family camping with Mae last year in Eastern Washington. They camped for many years with the raccoon, whom they'd rescued seven years ago. They say they'd never heard concern from WDFW in the past, but this particular officer asked if they had a permit.

A week later, an officer showed up at the West Seattle house to seize Mae. WDFW took Mae to a wildlife rehab center in Quilcene where she is currently living.

The Greers sued WDFW to win back custody of Mae.

The Greers say their intent was never to keep Mae when they found her as a newborn at a nearby park. They believe her mother was hit by a car and feared she wouldn't survive on her own. They've testified that they tried to find a wildlife rehab to take Mae but none would, including Sarvey in Arlington and PAWS in Lynnwood.

The couple says they had no choice but to care for Mae or let her die. Eventually, they say, they found a wildlife rehab on Vashon Island named Wolftown. That rehab allowed them to become sub-permittees, but it eventually went out of business and the permit went with it, according to the Greers. They continued raising the raccoon, having invested significant time into her care, including the construction of an outdoor enclosure with a pond and hammock.

According to the Greers, multiple interactions with law enforcement never produced concern. Sometimes, officers even took selfies with Mae.