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Show You Care And Leave Them There!


A mule deer fawn hidden in the rocks.

A mule deer fawn hidden in the rocks.

By: Kris Hazelton

What brightens spring for most of us, seeing all of the newborn wild animals, can cause problems for Colorado Division of Wildlife personnel. They know the price some of these tiny creatures will pay when well-intentioned people remove them from the wild.

As people venture outside in the warmer weather, they may find newborn wildlife in their yards, along trails, or in open space areas. As tempting as it may be to “help” a young animal by picking it up, or by trying to give it food or water, for wildlife babies, there is no substitute for their natural parents.

“People with the best of intentions pick up what they think is an ‘orphaned’ mule deer fawn or elk calf  and bring it in for us to do something with it,” said Rick Spowart, Colorado Division of Wildlife Manager. “The sad thing is that the mother is usually within eyeshot as the family drives away with what they presume is an orphan.”

Spowart said that due to chronic wasting disease and other illnesses that  strike mule deer, the Division of Wildlife cannot rehabilitate any orphaned mule deer fawns and they must be euthanized. It’s a sad fact but due to these serious disease issues, rehabilitation is just not an option this year for young mule deer fawns.

People need to know that deer, elk and moose very often leave their young to go off and feed. The young know to stay put and lay low. Because a fawn or calf is lying in the weeds or grass by itself does not mean it is orphaned. Patience will show, in almost all cases, if the infant is alone the parent will rejoin it in a few hours or by nightfall.
Many people get so caught up in “helping” newborn wildlife, they don’t stop to think about the animal behaviors involved in a situation and how to read it.

How tragic it is that people, who love animals and think they are helping, actually separate these tiny creatures from their natural mothers and deny them the life in the wild they were born to enjoy.

Animals that are clearly orphaned for example, when the dead mother is observable nearby should be reported to police dispatch at 586-4000 who will contact the CDOW.

The best policy for people to remember regarding infant wildlife is, “If you care, just leave them there.”

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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