DNREC Reminds Delawareans: 'If You Care, Leave Them There’
Look but don’t touch, much less disturb – and even then, just a quick glance and be on your way – that’s theDepartment of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s message to Delawareans likely to see young wildlife in their backyards or almost anywhere in the outdoors this time of year. DNREC reminds the public that it’s best when encountering young wildlife of any species to leave the animals alone, since their mothers are usually nearby monitoring them. Taking or “rescuing” a young wild animal from the wild almost inevitably means that it will not survive.
Thus, the entreaty from DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife: “If you care, leave them there.” While some young animals can appear to be abandoned, most often they are not, with their mothers often in close proximity waiting for the person who “discovered” their offspring to move on. Many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, will leave their young to forage for food, returning a few times a day, trusting their young’s natural instinct to lie quietly so as not to be detected by predators.
Another insight from DNREC is that handling or removing wildlife can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. Precautions to take with wild animals, young and old, include:
- If you see a young wild animal alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, but know that could take several hours.
- Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain.
- Keep pets away from wild animals, which can carry parasites such as fleas and ticks, or diseases such as rabies.
- Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep a live wild animal in Delaware.
During spring and summer months, rabies, which is occasionally found in wildlife, is more likely to be transmitted to humans and pets due to our increase in outdoor activities during this time of year. All the more reason to leave wildlife undisturbed and keep a safe distance between you and them.
For more help in trying to determine if a young wild animal is orphaned or injured, or is simply exhibiting normal behavior instead of needing to be rescued, contact the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators.
To determine the appropriate course of action if a young wild animal appears injured or if you are certain its parent is dead, contact the DNREC Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912, or for after-hours and on weekends, call 800-523-3336.