Conservation Connection: Newborn Wildlife

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(KPLR) - Spring is the time of new beginnings in the wild.  Infant animals are being born and reared right now.  Sometimes people may encounter these young animals and think they are abandoned.  What`s the best thing to do?  Should they be 'rescued'?  Dan Zarlenga from the Missouri Department of Conservation joins us to tell us more.

Q. Why do we see so many young animals this time of year?

  • Animals born in nature now because food is most abundant
  • Have longest period to grow and develop before the cold winter months

Q. What should someone do if they see a baby animal in the wild that seems to be abandoned?

  • Best thing to do is leave it alone!
  • Includes deer fawns, baby rabbits, raccoons, etc.
  • Most of the time they are not actually abandoned
  • Mothers sometimes leave them temporarily to gather food
  • Mothers separate themselves to decoy potential predators away

Q. What about young birds who have fallen out of the nest?

  • Again, leave them alone
  • Parents will still return them to the nest if they fall out
  • Some birds need to move around outside the nest before they can fly

Q.  Why isn`t a good idea to try to raise these animals?

  • Wild animals do not make good pets: 'You can take the animal out of the wild, but not the wild out of the animal'
  • Wild animals have specific nutrition needs we usually can`t supply
  • Humans can`t teach proper survival skills, so if animals are released they will not survive anyway
  • Wild animals can transmit disease to humans or pets
  • It is generally illegal to keep most wildlife

Q. Is there something we can do to help?

  • Keep non-native predators like house cats and dogs indoors this time of year—many kinds of nesting wildlife are killed by outdoor pets
  • Keep in mind that not all young animals survive regardless, and those eaten by natural predators are providing important food for other animals.
  • Animals that are easily preyed upon also tend to reproduce in large numbers—part of nature`s balance
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