April 11, 2018
Did you find an orphaned or injured baby wild animal?
While the official first day of spring was three weeks ago, many in the northern hemisphere are only just starting to experience warmer weather. People, plants, and animals are beginning to emerge from their winter modes to step outside, bloom, and otherwise welcome the sunshine. Much of the country has blooming tulips and dogwoods to signal the arrival of Spring as well as the arrival of adorable little animal babies. It is the season of new hatchlings, fawns, kittens, and chicks. In the spring and early summer, when wildlife reproduction is at its peak, you may have the good fortune of observing baby animals in the wild.
Baby wild animals might seem like they need our help, but unless the animal is truly orphaned or injured, there is no need to rescue them. These tips can help you decide whether to take action.
Often, the babies you see will be unattended by a parent. Unless something seems amiss, keep your distance and leave them alone. Human intervention is always a wild animal’s LAST hope for survival, NEVER its best hope.
Wildlife parents are very devoted to their young and rarely abandon them. Many species are raised by only one parent (the mother), and she cannot be in two places at once. This means that baby wildlife must be left alone several times during the day or even the majority of the time while the mother ventures off to find food for herself and her young.
The best thing to do is to keep your distance, and keep children and pets away from the young animal. This is to protect both humans and wildlife. Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can be harmful to humans and pets. Wild animals also defend themselves by scratching or biting.
What do I do if an animal is truly abandoned or injured?
If you see open wounds or other injuries, or you know in fact that a young wild animal has lost its parent, consult your nearest Wildlife District Office or local wildlife rehabilitator. Do not attempt to capture or feed wildlife until proper, expert guidance is provided to you. Also, limit contact with the animal to reduce stress and the possibility of it becoming habituated. Taming a young animal will make it unreleasable in the wild.
Keep wildlife in their natural habitat:
- A baby wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother.
- Wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild, not in a house or a cage.
- The best option for a wild animal is to learn normal behaviors from their own species in their natural environment. An animal that has become habituated to humans cannot be returned to the wild.
- Once they grow, wild animals are active and independent, which can make them dangerous and destructive.
- Wild animals can be highly stressed by sights, sounds, and smells from people and pets, especially when in close proximity. Stress can cause health problems and even death.
- Wild animals have complex nutritional needs not easily met in captivity. Nutritional deficiencies can leave an animal deformed for life.
- Wild animals can carry diseases and parasites, some of which are transmissible to people or pets. Some diseases, like rabies, can cause serious health problems.
It is illegal to possess, own, control, restrain, or keep any wild animal.
The purpose of the law is to protect wild animal populations and to protect people from disease and injury.