Please Think Twice Before “Rescuing” Young Wildlife
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal for many of Colorado’s wildlife species. Throughout the state, longer days and warmer temperatures set the stage for the arrival of newborn wild animals.
While this can be an exciting time to view wildlife, the Division of Wildlife (DOW) would like to remind people not to approach, relocate or handle any newborn animals.
“Every year the DOW receives numerous calls from good Samaritans, who with the best of intentions, have ‘rescued’ a young animal that they believed to be abandoned or orphaned,” said Aimee Ryel, District Wildlife Manager for Loveland. “In almost every scenario, this is simply not the case, and these people don’t realize that they are in fact, endangering the lives of these animals by interfering with their natural adaptation.”
It can be common in the spring to see young animals alone in the forest, in backyards or along the sides of roads. In most cases, these animals have not been abandoned but were left there on purpose by their mother.
Many newborns are not mobile enough to travel with their parents. Therefore, this time apart allows the mother to feed and helps to insure that her offspring are safe from predators. The mother will typically return at least twice a day to feed her young until they are strong enough to go with her.
Deer fawns and elk calves are particularly well-equipped to elude predators during this time, as they are born having little or no scent. For the first several days after birth, they instinctively freeze and will lie motionless when approached. Their spotted coat provides a natural camouflage which allows them to hide very well in their surroundings.
It is also important to remember that many animal species are extremely sensitive to human odors. Young animals that are handled by humans are often abandoned by their mothers once human scent has been transferred to them.
People who find newborn wildlife that appears to be injured or sick, should call their local DOW office. The DOW will contact a licensed rehabilitator to help the animal.
Another common springtime scenario is finding young birds that appear to have fallen from their nests. In some instances, the birds may have actually fallen but many times they are in the process of learning how to fly. If the birds can be safely put back into the nest or onto a high branch, it is okay to do so. Birds, unlike many other animals, will not abandon their young because of the presence of human odors.
“It’s important to understand that not all newborn animals will survive,” said Kris Middledorf, Castle Rock District Wildlife Manager. “In the case of all wildlife, there is a natural mortality that occurs every year.”
The DOW encourages people to enjoy viewing newborn wildlife this season but to leave all wild animals undisturbed in their natural environment.
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: wildlife.state.co.us.