DEEP warns people not to rescue animals perceived as 'orphaned' - WFSB 3 Connecticut

DEEP warns people not to rescue animals perceived as 'orphaned'

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Young gray foxes may appear to be alone, but DEEP said they may not necessarily be orphaned. (Paul J. Fusco, CT DEEP Wildlife Division) Young gray foxes may appear to be alone, but DEEP said they may not necessarily be orphaned. (Paul J. Fusco, CT DEEP Wildlife Division)
(WFSB) -

They may appear orphaned, lonely and cute, but state environmental officials are warning against "rescuing" baby animals.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it is normal for many animals to leave their young alone for long periods of time, so they may not need help.

“Connecticut’s authorized wildlife rehabilitators care for more than 11,000 animals each year,” said DEEP wildlife division biologist Laurie Fortin. “Most of these are young wild animals that were brought in by well-intentioned individuals. However, many did not need to be rescued.”

DEEP said in all likelihood, the adult is nearby watching and waiting to return.

It provided a list of animals that leave their young alone:

  • White-tailed deer: The only time a female doe is found with a fawn is during feeding times. Fawns instinctively freeze and lay motionless when approached.
  • Rabbits: Mothers are only in the nests twice a day for feedings. Nests are typically in the middle of yards so they can keep an eye out for predators. If the rabbit has obvious injuries, take it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Birds: If the bird has a short tail, it's old enough to leave the nest but is not yet a proficient flier. Just keep pets away. If a bird on the ground has no feathers, DEEP said people can try to place the bird back in its nest, if it's nearby. Contrary to belief, DEEP said most parent birds have a poor sense of smell and will not be scared away if you touched the young bird.

If people encounter an injured animal, DEEP said to avoid direct contact, keep pets and children away, use heavy gloves to transfer it to a cardboard box or escape-proof container, keep the animal warm and in a quiet place and contact an authorized wildlife rehabilitator.

DEEP said keeping wild animals as pets is discouraged and may even be illegal.

“Although it may be natural to want to assist young animals, caring for them may actually do more harm than good,” Fortin said. “It may be dangerous too, as direct contact may result in exposure to rabies or other diseases carried by wildlife. Be aware that even young mammals can carry and transfer the rabies virus in their saliva. Handling a potential rabies carrier, such as a baby raccoon, without proper precautions may require that the animal be euthanized for rabies testing.”

For more information on wildlife rehabilitators in Connecticut and other information on the state's wildlife, head to DEEP's website here.

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