Springtime is wonderful; it brings new growth and warmer weather. Squirrels, deer, rabbits, turkeys, songbirds, and a long list of other wildlife all will have young born during this time.
Now more than ever, humans are more likely to encounter baby animals. There are many misconceptions surrounding these young and wild animals. Species leave their young hidden, especially in the newborn stages, intentionally. It is our responsibility to know what to do when we encounter baby animals in the woods.
When people stumble upon these animals, they often believe they were abandoned or should help, but that is simply not the appropriate action. Camouflage is the best resource for most newborn animals, which they will use until they are older and strong enough to flee from predators. This is nature’s way of protecting these animals.
For example, fawns are born scent-free as a means of avoiding the noses of predators. Your touch would alter that, leaving scent, and could potentially alert a predator. The safety of young animals is a major reason why humans shouldn’t pet or hold wild animals.
Katie Keen, Wildlife Tech for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, had this to say on the matter: “Some people may take wildlife because they think they’re orphaned, or they may just take them because they’re cute. Most wildlife does not stay with their young 24/7. They leave them in a nest, they leave them in a place they feel is camouflaged and safe.”
Most states do not allow wildlife to be kept as pets, as they are not mean to be such. If you’re concerned with an animal, the best thing to do is simply check on it time to time. If you encounter a situation where you know a baby animal has been injured or you know its mother has died, then contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who can give the animal proper care.
Wild animals raised by inexperienced people often leads to improper nutritional diets or “debilitated” animals that have no fear of humans and cannot revert back to life in the wild.