Leave baby wildlife alone
MARTINS FERRY — ‘Tis the season for wild baby animals of all kinds to be born and learn how to forge their own paths in the forest.
Sometimes these animals, such as deer and rabbits, need to be left alone by their mothers who are out gathering food.
People with soft hearts for the young furry beasts sometimes get concerned about the animals when finding them in the tall grass or wandering alone near a road or field. Some people believe it is better for the animal if they capture it and bring it home. But the opposite is actually true, according to scientists and wildlife officials.
According to information from the Belmont County Soil and Water Conservation District, “Baby animals are often left alone for periods of time while their mothers are out foraging for food.”
“Young wildlife are camouflaged and have instincts that keep them very still to protect them from predators when their mothers are away. Yes, these baby animals may be cute, but they are not pets. Let the wild stay wild,” the district adds.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, most species of animals are only raised by one parent — typically the mother — and she cannot be with her babies all the time.
“This means that baby wildlife must be left alone several times during the day, or even most of the time while the mother ventures off to find food for herself and her young. In the case of white-tailed deer, a doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent, and when left alone, it is difficult for predators to find it. The doe is usually nearby and will tend to the fawn during the night,” the ODW notes.
Another example is a baby bird that has fallen from its nest.
“Baby birds that have fallen from their nests are among the most commonly encountered wildlife species removed from the wild by humans. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not prevent the parents from returning to care for their young. Individuals should return a baby bird back to its nest and walk away so the parents can continue to feed it without fear of humans,” according to the division.
In the case of animals appearing to be injured, it is best to call wildlife authorities for help instead of handling them.
If one is not sure what to do or does see an injured animal in Ohio, call 800-945-3543.