Please Don’t Rush To Rescue Young Wildlife

Officer takes mountain lion kitten taken from a home where it was fed bratwurst and fell ill

After removing a mountain lion kitten from a private home, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public it is illegal to possess wild animals and dangerous to the animals’ health.

Although sick from being fed bratwurst, the kitten appeared to be in good health otherwise, said Travis Sauder, CPW district wildlife manager, after he retrieved the kitten and sent it to the nonprofit Wet Mountain WIldlife Rehabilitation in Wetmore.

But the incident could have turned out much differently since the kitten, estimated by wildlife biologists to be under six months of age, was fed human food when it probably was not yet weaned from its mother’s milk and may have only eaten regurgitated solids from its mother.

"If you find wildlife you believe to be orphaned, leave the area immediately and call CPW,” Sauder said. “By leaving the area, mom will feel safe to come back and retrieve her young.

“Many animals intentionally leave their young behind when startled, relying on the built-in camouflage of the youngsters’ spotted fur to keep them safe. The mother will then return to retrieve its young once the area is safe.”

The people in possession of the kitten published photos Monday on social media showing it in a cage. They claimed they found it in a snowbank after a snowplow passed by. They also claimed they released it back to the wild after allowing it to “thaw out.” In fact, Sauder collected the kitten from their home in Walsenburg on Tuesday. He then transported it to the rehab center.

“Wild animals do not need to ‘thaw out’ because they are equipped by nature to survive cold and snow,” Sauder said. “When we do have orphaned wildlife, it's important we get them to licensed rehabilitators who specialize in raising these wild animals, who know what to feed them and how to care for them so we can successfully release them back into the wild once they mature.”

Sauder said this kitten was kept far too long by humans to return to where it was found.

“It had been almost 30 hours since it was picked up Monday and its mom would not be in the area any longer,” he said. “This is why it's vital to leave baby wildlife where you find them and call us immediately."

For more information, go to cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeSpring.

Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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