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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
May 8, 2007

Contacts: Kelly Siciliano Carter 517-373-1263 or Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014

Leave Wildlife in the Wild: Citizens Urged to Not Handle or Adopt Young Wildlife

The Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to resist handling or adopting what appear to be orphaned baby animals. Wild animals are protected by state regulations and may only be kept temporarily by those who possess wildlife rehabilitation permits.

“Often people find fledgling birds, bunnies, or fawns, and having the best of intentions believing that they are rescuing the animal,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Kelly Siciliano Carter. “Many people do not realize that most of the time, the mother is nearby and will come back when people leave the area. We want everyone to enjoy their time in the Michigan outdoors, but leave the animals in the wild.”

Carter added every year at this time the DNR circulates this message but still receives hundreds of inquiries from caring individuals who think they are saving wildlife by “rescuing” them from the wild. Carter said those individuals actually are doing more harm than good, and may even be causing harm to themselves.

Many biological and disease problems are associated with handling wild animals including rabies, distemper, parasites and mange. Raccoons, for example, are known to host a roundworm that can cause blindness and death in people.

It is normal for many wild animal species to leave their young unattended for hours at a time. Deer, for instance, leave their fawns for up to eight hours before returning to nurse in an attempt to minimize the likelihood that predators will find the new born fawns, Carter said.

“Taking a fawn home is illegal, and usually results in the death of the animal,” Carter said. “If you have already taken a wild animal, put it back exactly where you found it. The mother will most often return and care for the animal. You should not release it in a different location; its mother will not find it.”

Carter added that many people think if they touch young birds the mother will abandon the nest -- this is not true. If you find a young bird, place it back in its nest.

Before you assume an animal is in trouble, you should wait and watch. Citizens who suspect that a wild baby animal is abandoned should call their nearest DNR office. DNR personnel will assess the situation and refer the caller to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator when appropriate. DNR office locations can be found on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

The DNR is committed to conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.
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