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Reminder to leave young wild animals alone

They may appear to be lost or abandoned but the mother is usually nearby

It’s an exciting time for nature enthusiasts when young animals such as fawns, ducklings, rabbits or songbirds are around. However, it can also be a time when people forget to leave these animals alone, even if they appear helpless or lost. In the majority of cases, the animals are not abandoned or deserted, and the mother is nearby watching.

In nature, young animals and birds are purposely placed into seclusion by their mothers to protect them from predators. Although people are often well intentioned and want to rescue what appear to be orphaned young animals, government conservation officers ask you to please not touch them. Their chances for survival decrease when they come into contact with humans.

Wildlife can also carry and transmit infectious diseases to people, such as rabies or West Nile virus. Only wildlife rehabilitators are licensed to care for orphaned and injured animals. They are trained to make sure animals are given appropriate care and nutrition, so they have the best chances of survival when they are released back into the wild.

A young animal should only be picked up if the parent is found dead nearby, or in an unnatural situation such as a young songbird found on a doorstep. In that case, the young bird could be moved to the closest suitable habitat.

To determine if a deer fawn is orphaned, please consider these signs:

  • Has it been lying in the same position for more than 10 hours?
  • Is it vocal?
  • Is it covered in insects?
  • Is it wet?

Being covered by the morning dew may indicate it has been there for a prolonged period. If there are obvious signs of injury, or that it has been orphaned, please contact your local conservation officer before moving the fawn. The conservation officer will determine if the fawn should be picked up and taken to a licensed rehabilitator.

People are also reminded to steer clear of adult wildlife, such as deer or moose that sometimes wander into populated areas. People will stress the animals, which could lead to a potentially dangerous situation. Give wildlife their space.

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