May 19, 2010

Manitoba Conservation reminds the public to avoid picking up or disturbing young wild animals thought to be abandoned, as they are most likely not orphaned.

Each year, many young wild animals are unnecessarily picked up by well-intentioned people and turned in to natural resource officers or wildlife rehabilitators for treatment and rearing. This past mild winter may result in an increase in healthy new young animals and birds.

Adult wildlife must forage to provide food for their newborns, leaving them alone, sometimes for long periods.  The parent is usually nearby and quite aware of their young.  Seeing a young animal on its own does not necessarily mean it is orphaned.

Many people who find fawns mistakenly assume the young deer have been abandoned. Frequent wildlife rescues are of baby deer that are temporarily left in a safe place while their mother feeds nearby.  This behaviour and setting help to mask the fawn’s scent, thus providing good protection from the keen nose of a predator.

Other young animals most frequently thought to be orphaned are bear cubs, squirrels, rabbits, racoons and skunks.

Unless the remains of the mother are near the young wild animal, it is best to leave the animal where it was found.  Manitoba Conservation recommends that fawns or other baby animals should not be touched and that people should quietly leave the area.
 Touching the animal may cause the mother to reject it because of human scent.  The best way to help is to allow the adult animals to care for them.

If you are concerned a young animal has been abandoned:

·         Observe the situation for several hours from a distance using binoculars.

·         Do not remain near the young animal as the parents may become afraid and not return to the area.

·         Do not attempt to capture the animal or bird as there is a risk of injury to the animal and it is also illegal to do so under the Wildlife Act.

As well, handling wildlife is not recommended for safety reasons. Wild animals may bite or scratch. Some animals carry rabies or other diseases. If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly and report to a doctor or call Health Links–Info Santé at 1-888-315-9257 for an assessment of rabies risk and any necessary treatment.

Anyone finding an orphaned animal when the mother is known to be dead should contact the nearest Manitoba Conservation office or The Wildlife Haven:  A Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization at 204-883-2122 or the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at 204-510-1855.

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