Spring breeding season reminder: Leave young wildlife alone
It's the time of year when a variety of young wildlife is dotting the landscape and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is issuing a warning to would-be do-gooders to avoid the temptation to interfere with wildlife that they believe is in need of help.
Why? Because most likely, the animals are just fine.
"During the breeding season, well-meaning people may believe they are helping by taking possession of young wildlife such as young rabbits, fawn deer, baby birds and other animals that may appear to have been orphaned or abandoned," IDNR cautions. "In nearly all cases, the birds and animals are still being fed and cared for by their parents, which likely stay away from nests or dens if people are present."
State officials urge people with questions about possibly abandoned wildlife to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found on the University of Illinois Extension's website.
Officials also urge people to be aware of the following:
- Birds often leave the nest before they can fly. These birds, known as fledglings, will live on the ground for a few days while they grow flight feathers, and you may hear them making noises calling for their parents. They do this so their parents will continue to feed them, and it doesn’t mean they are in trouble. Keep children and pets away.
- Do not attempt to rescue fawns. Fawns stay very still to conceal themselves until they are old enough to keep up with their mother. The mother will not stand near the fawns for fear of alerting predators to their presence. Leave fawns alone and the mother will return once you leave the area.
- It is illegal to feed wild deer. When deer congregate, it can facilitate the spread of disease and cause other unintended consequences.
- Wild birds and animals can become habituated to people when they are provided food. Do not leave pet food outside at night, clean up under bird feeders, secure the lids on garbage cans to keep raccoons and other wildlife out, and don’t feed Canada geese in urban/suburban areas. Nuisance animals can become dangerous to people.
- Handling wild animals can result in the handler being bitten. According to the Centers for Disease Control, wild animals that bite a person must be euthanized immediately to be tested for rabies.