If a baby animal is found alone, is it abandoned?
No! Many people discover apparently lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing. This almost always does more harm than good. First and foremost, don't assume that these animals have been abandoned and need to be rescued. One or both of the parents may be just out of sight and disturbing them could jeopardize their well-being. If you find a healthy young animal that is able to walk and is fully feathered or furred, it may not need your help. Its parents are usually nearby. Baby birds almost ready to fly will often hop around in the tree branches exercising their wings, and fall out of the tree. Parents will feed these youngsters where they find them on the ground. Observe the young animal from a distance before approaching it.
What if I think the animal is in danger?
Young wild animals in danger do not necessarily have to be taken from the wild, just protected from the danger. Pets and children are the most immediate hazard to a young wild animal in your yard. Pets may attack the young animal and children may cause injury by mishandling it. Some wild animals carry diseases. Keep pets and children away from the animal while you keep watch.
Should I try to take care of the animal if I truly think it's abandoned or injured?
If the young animal appears weak or injured, it may have some disease. Nature has provided that many more animals are born every year than are able to mature and reproduce. This surplus of animals goes to feed other animals. In other words, by rescuing one wild animal, you may be depriving another of its prey. It may sound cruel, but an orphan animal helps another animal survive by becoming its food.
It is illegal to possess migratory birds such as songbirds and that includes cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, etc. as well as hawks and owls. Also, most wild animals don't spend very much time at their young's side in order to not attract predators to the nest. In fact, a female rabbit only spends about one hour out of every 36 with her baby rabbits, so observing them from a distance and waiting for the adult to return can be a long wait. It's also important to keep in mind that in prolific species such as songbirds and rabbits, up to 80 percent of the young die their first year, so attrition is part of nature's way.
Click here for more information on wildlife rehabilitation. These people trained and licensed to work with injured wildlife. They are volunteers and donations are helpful.
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