By New Hampshire Fish & Game Dept.
With the arrival of spring, many species of wildlife are giving birth to their young. Finding young wildlife can be exciting, but in most cases, even if the animal appears abandoned, the mother is not far away.
If you encounter young wildlife – even if you think the young animal appears to need help – the kindest and safest thing to do is to leave it alone and let nature take its course.
Reports have already begun coming in to game officials and local wildlife rehabilitators across the country from people who have picked up young animals, mistakenly thinking they are orphans.
"Picking up young animals is an error in judgment," according to Dan Bergeron, a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Game and Fish Department. "People think they're doing a good deed, but they are often removing the animal from the care of its parents and potentially exposing themselves to the risk of disease. In particular, your actions may result in the animal having to be euthanized for rabies testing."
All young wild animals (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) typically have their best chance of surviving when they are in their own natural environment, Bergeron explains.
What should you do if you find a young animal?
"Give wildlife plenty of space and leave them alone and in the wild, where they belong," Bergeron said.
Improper care of injured or orphaned wildlife often leads to their sickness or death. In many states, unless you have rehabilitator credentials, it is illegal to have in your possession or take wildlife from the wild and keep it in captivity.
— Contributing—the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
— Photo courtesy of USFWS