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Leave Young Wildlife Alone

Fish & Wildlife - Region 4

Fri Jun 21 14:22:00 MDT 2013

The calls have started already. Someone has found, rescued or saved a baby animal. Surely, it must be orphaned. What to do?

The answer from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks rarely varies: Leave the animal alone.

First, wild animals are not human babies. In the wild, many are born, many die and a few make it to adulthood. In some bird species, as many as 50 percent of the young do not live one year. That may sound harsh, but it is the way of nature.

Second, a young animal that appears abandoned often is not. The mother of a young deer or bird or raccoon usually watches nearby, waiting for the human visitor to leave. Sometimes, the mother may actually attack if it believes its young are in danger.

Finally, and perhaps most important, it’s illegal to keep wild animals. To some extent that’s because many furbearers can carry rabies and other diseases. But also wild animals do not make good pets; they are not like cats and dogs that have been bred for thousands of years as pets. Wild animals do unpredictable things that can result in human injuries.

So, if you see a wild animal, enjoy the view but leave it alone. It’s better off remaining in the wild.