HARRISBURG, Pa.-- From hatchlings to fawns and from backyards to mountain forests, it's common that Pennsylvanians will encounter young wildlife this time of year.
For some people, young animals might look like they've been abandoned, usually they are not. It’s likely their mothers are watching over them from somewhere nearby.
That's why the Pennsylvania Game Commission is putting out the call to leave young wildlife alone; be it deer, birds, raccoons or other animals, the best thing you can do is leave them alone.
“Well-intentioned people might step in to help a young animal that appears to be alone, not realizing its mother is nearby and it’s not in need of help,” said Matthew Schnupp, the Game Commission’s wildlife management director. “That’s one reason why leaving young wildlife undisturbed in the wild typically is the best solution when encountering young wild animals.”
According to game biologists, adult animals often leave their young while they forage for food, but they don’t go far and they do return. Wildlife also often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy,” where young animals will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.
The Game Commission urges Pennsylvanians to avoid interfering with young wildlife. Never take the animal out of the wild. Doing so can be harmful to both people and wildlife.
Wild animals can lose their natural fear of humans, making it impossible, for them to ever again live normally in the wild. There’s always a risk people could contract diseases like rabies or parasites such as fleas, ticks and lice.
It is also illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild. Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal.
Only wildlife rehabilitators, who are licensed by the Game Commission, are permitted to care for injured or orphaned wildlife for the purposes of eventual release back into the wild. For those who find wildlife that truly is in need of assistance, a listing of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website, www.pawr.com.
If you are unable to identify a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the animal is found so that you can be referred to the appropriate licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Region office contact information can be found under the title “Connect with Us” at the bottom of the www.pgc.pa.gov homepage.