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Wildlife Branch

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Orphaned Wildlife
Is it really orphaned?

Every year, particularly during the spring and early summer, wildlife of all shapes and sizes are born. Many of these young wild animals are unnecessarily picked up by people and turned in to Natural Resource Officers or wildlife rehabilitators for treatment and rearing. Seeing a young animal on its own does not necessarily mean it’s an orphan.

Most of the animals “rescued” by well-meaning people do not require help. Many wildlife parents leave their young alone during the day, sometimes for long periods. The parent is usually nearby and quite aware of her young. If you are concerned the young have been abandoned, observe the situation for several hours from a distance using binoculars. Don’t hover too close as the parents maybe too afraid to return to the area. When people handle or move young animals, it increases the likelihood that parents may abandon them or be unable to find them. The best way to help is to leave the wildlife where you found it, disturb them as little as possible, and allow the adults to care for them.

The young animals most frequently considered “orphaned” are nestling birds, deer fawns, bear cubs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and skunks.

If an animal attempts to flee or defend itself, it probably doesn’t need your help. Help should only be considered if the animal is obviously injured.