Spring is often the time of year when some animal lovers can’t help but intervene if they see a newborn creature that appears to be orphaned or a wild animal that is injured.
But you should be cautious and refrain from acting too quickly or doing something that could cause more harm than good, warn nature and rescue organizations.
"When people come in contact with young wildlife, they may jump to the conclusion that the animal is orphaned and in need of assistance,” according to the University of Illinois Extension’s "Wildlife Illinois" website. “However, most often this is not the case. Many orphaned animals that are rescued each year by well-meaning individuals are not orphans. Young animals are often left alone while their parents are away searching for food."
The website goes on to give wildlife advice and tips for animals that may or may not be orphaned:
- Do not touch or remove the young animal unless you are absolutely sure that it is an orphan or severely injured.
- If you are not sure if the animal is orphaned, watch it from a distance so that the parents will not be afraid to return. Many species return to their young near dusk and dawn. A young animal that looks well-fed with bright eyes and clean fur or feathers is probably not orphaned.
- If the animal does need help, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
The extension service's website features a page called "Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator" that lists licensed rehabilitators by county. And the Illinois Department of Natural Resources also maintains an online "Find Wildlife Rehabilitator" list.