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MADISON — Wisconsin’s Keep Wildlife Wild campaign urges people to enjoy the ongoing wild animal birthing season from afar as most young, including those seen alone, likely are under the care of a mother safely out of sight.
Dianne Robinson, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist and interim chair of the multi-agency campaign in its second year, says people should resist the well-intentioned temptation to interact with a young animal perceived as on its own, because human interaction may do more harm than good.
Cheryl Diehl, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and campaign member and says people should never assume an animal is orphaned.
“Some species leave their young unattended to gather food or to protect them from predators,” she said.
Diehl suggests watching the animal through binoculars during the day. If the animal is genuinely orphaned or injured, don’t touch it, and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. (More tips and facts about how wildlife care for their young can be found on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, search keywords: keep wildlife wild.)
Robinson notes species vary on how they care for their young.
“Baby rabbits are left alone in their nest, concealed by grass or vegetation. The mother returns to feed her young and leaves to keep predators at bay,” she said. “Young raccoons are often seen playing in trees or yards without their mother, but she is nearby. Fledgling songbirds leave nests without parental supervision and before they are capable of flight. Fawns are born with spots and very little scent to hide them from predators. A fawn found lying still and by itself should be left alone.”
Robinson says the campaign works to help prevent orphaned or injured wildlife situations. Here are tips from the campaign’s wildlife experts:
• Control family pets when outdoors.
• Stay alert for wildlife on roads.
• Place covers on window wells so small animals do not get trapped. Seal off spaces under decks or buildings, and spaces in attics, garages, or buildings so wild animals cannot make nests.
• Make potential food items inaccessible to wild animals, including pet food and garbage.
• Be careful if trapping and relocating adult wild animals during warmer months. You may unknowingly separate wild animal adults and babies.