CHARLESTON W.Va. – Every year, young wildlife are picked up by people with good intentions who believe the animals have been abandoned.
According to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the best of intentions often lead to bad results.
When people pick up young animals, instead of leaving them where they were found, the animals usually end up captive, away from their environment, and subject to disease, improper feeding, and even death.
DNR advises people to leave young wildlife alone.
It needs to be stressed, the naturalists say, that although young wildlife looks cute because of size and appearance, these animal babies should always be treated as a wild animal.
Still wild animals.
Young wild animals will exhibit unpredictable behavior when confronted with human contact. This behavior can sometimes have disastrous consequences both to humans and to the animal. Young wildlife can also carry diseases that are not easily recognized by people who might pick up them up.
If you see an animal that acts strangely or unnatural, it is advisable not handle it, but to report it to a wildlife biologist or conservation officer, stating the type of animal, the action you have taken, and where the animal is located.
People come across young wildlife ranging from birds fallen from nests to young fawns lying hidden in a field. DNR stresses that just because you see young wildlife in the same place for several hours or even longer, does not mean the animal has been abandoned by the parent. There could be any number of reasons why the animal is where it is found.
Adult wildlife will not abandon their young, and, except in extreme circumstances, will always return to an area where its young were left. If by chance you find a young animal or other wildlife that you feel has been abandoned or injured, you should not try to move it, except for a short distance away from imminent danger such as vehicles or dogs. Then, leave it alone.
If the animal is still there after 24 hours call a conservation officer or wildlife biologist.
“State law and regulations prohibit a person to possess or keep wild animals without a permit” said Col. James D. Fields, chief of the DNR law enforcement section. “To obtain a permit, the animal must have been taken during the legal open season for that animal or purchased from a licensed dealer. Fines for illegal possession of fawn deer, black bear cub, baby raccoon, squirrel, or any other species of wildlife taken or possessed during the closed season range from $20 up to a maximum of $1,000, and up to 100 days in jail.