The Division of Fish and Wildlife is advising Delawareans that when encountering young wildlife, regardless of species, the best thing people can do is to leave the animals alone.
“Most people want to do all they can to help wildlife,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Emily Boyd. “When they see a young wild animal that appears abandoned, they want to help, but they don’t realize that what they consider to be ‘helpful’ is often harmful. Many wildlife species leave their young while they forage for food, visiting the young only a few times a day. This tactic, in addition to the young’s inherent behavior to lay quietly while waiting for the parent to return, protects the young from predators by drawing less attention to them.”
“If a young wild animal appears injured or you are certain its parent is dead, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife to determine the appropriate course of action,” said Boyd. “This is not only for your own safety, but also helps to ensure the best possible outcome for the wild animal.”
Removing or handling wildlife in any way can be harmful to humans and wildlife. Precautions to take with both juvenile and adult wild animals include:
— People seeing a wild animal alone, especially a young wild animal, should watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, but be aware that this could take several hours.
— Wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain.
— Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can affect residents and their pets, such as fleas and ticks or rabies. If a resident must handle any wild animal, they should wear gloves and use care.
— Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep any wild animal in Delaware.
“In almost every case, wild animals should be left where they are found. The hard truth is, if you take a wild animal from the wild, you are almost certainly ensuring its death,” said Boyd. “While you may see a young animal alone, what you don’t see is its mother, who is most likely nearby and waiting for you to move on. If you care, leave them there.”
For more information, call 739-9912.