Spring is a busy time in the natural world. Not only are plants sprouting, growing and blooming, but young animals are hatching and being born as well. It is the latter of these that brings many to call our office. This past week, most of the calls have been about young fawns. In previous weeks, it has been young rabbits, birds and others. So what should you do if you find a young animal you believe to be abandoned? The only answer is to leave it alone!! If for no other reason, the young animals should be left where you find them because it is illegal to remove any animal from the wild without proper permits and training.
Many believe a young animal to be abandoned because there is no adult to be seen. That may be due to two different reasons. The first is that you are around. You are a large animal, and therefore a possible predator to those other animals. A rabbit, bird, raccoon, etc. will stay away if you are around. The second is that some adult animals leave their young all day or night without supervision. They return for them in the evening or early morning hours to feed them and move on.
Let’s take the deer for an example. A female deer will leave her fawn in what she believes to be a well-hidden place for an entire day. We have received many calls in our office about abandoned deer that are shaking and calling loudly for their mothers. While this call may be heart-wrenching, there is nothing wrong with this situation. We have advised people to enjoy the show that is taking place in their yard, and wait for the adult to return in the evening. When the caller has heeded that advice, they have been able to witness the mother returning to the fawn, feeding it, and walking away to a new area without any harm to the fawn. Some have not heeded that advice, and taken the deer into their home. In at least one instance, the caller overfed the fawn and it died.
Young birds have fallen from nests since the beginning of time. Adults will most often still care for those young. If you fear your dog or cat may get the young bird, you have a couple options. One is to keep your cat or dog away from the area. The other is to place the young bird back in the nest.
Raccoons and rabbits are other animals that will leave their young in nests or hiding spots for long periods of time. So please do everyone – including the young animals – a favor and leave the babies alone and where you find them. They will be much better off. Nature has taken care of these young animals for thousands of years, and it is much better at caring for them than we are.