Spring Warning: Leave Wild Animals Alone
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials have published a timely alert meant for residents of their state, but the message applies wherever there are wild animals. Their main point is that during spring, when people are outside enjoying nature, they may encounter young rabbits, deer, birds or raccoons. When these situations arise, it is best to leave the young animals alone.
It is normal behavior for mature animals to leave their young behind when they go out foraging for food, though some people may believe they have been abandoned. The survival strategy for young animals left by themselves is to hide in natural cover, such as tall grass. If they are disturbed by people, they may run off and leave the area their parents left them in and become lost. Another thing visitors to wild areas may be tempted to do when they find a young wild animal by itself is to pick it up and take it home. This practice could be harmful to the animal, and perhaps also to the people who do it.
“Wild animals are not meant to be pets, and we must all resist our well-meaning and well-intentioned urge to want to care for wildlife. Taking wildlife from its natural settings and into your home may expose or transmit wildlife diseases to people or domestic animals. Wildlife also may carry parasites – such as fleas, ticks or lice – that you wouldn’t want infesting you, your family, your home or your pets,” said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. (Source: MarketWatch)
Also, people can contract rabies when they are bitten or scratched by wild animals. Skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes can all carry rabies. An estimated 40,000 Americans receive the rabies vaccine each year after coming into contact with animals suspected of carrying the disease.
Additionally, habituating wild animals to being close to people means they lose their natural fear. Once this fear is gone, they are more vulnerable to getting hit by motor vehicles and wandering into residential areas where they may be targeted as pests. The loss of their protective fear can also endanger humans. For example, in Pennsylvania a large male adult deer attacked and severely injured two people. Later it was determined the deer had been fed by a family since it was a fawn.
If you do come across a young, wild animal by itself where it is very exposed to view and seems disoriented, it would be better to call conservation officials, who can best deal with the situation.
Image Credit: garyjwood / Creative Commons