Leave wildlife in the wild|
As spring returns and Michigan’s wild birds and animals begin to produce the next generation of our living natural resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials remind outdoor enthusiasts to resist handling or adopting what appear to be orphaned baby animals.
Kelly Carter, DNR Wildlife biologist, said wild animals are protected by state regulations, and may not be kept except by persons who possess Wildlife Rehabilitation permits.
“Often, people find fledgling birds or baby fawns, and believe they are rescuing the animal,” Carter said. “Many people do not understand that most of the time, the mother is nearby. We want everyone to enjoy their time outdoors in Michigan, but leave the animals in the forest.”
Carter added that many biological and disease problems are associated with handling wild animals, including distemper, rabies, parasites and mange. Raccoons, for example, are known to host a roundworm that can cause blindness and death in people.
Lt. Alan Marble, DNR district law enforcement supervisor, said many Michigan residents have misconceptions about so-called “orphan” white-tailed deer fawns. It is normal for many wild animal species to leave their young unattended for hours at a time. Deer, for example, leave their fawns for up to 8 hours before returning to nurse.
“Taking that fawn home is illegal, and more importantly, usually amounts to a death warrant for that animal,” Marble said. A tamed deer will walk in front of a car, or try to leap through a sliding glass door. A tamed buck can and often will attack people when it becomes sexually mature and begins to view humans as rivals, not as its ‘friends.’ Its chances of survival in the wild go down each day that it is kept as a pet.”
Marble said residents who discover concrete evidence of an ‘orphaned’ animal – meaning the dead carcass of the mother is immediately nearby – can contact the nearest DNR office. The information will be investigated, and if it appears to a trained observer to be a genuinely orphaned animal, it will be taken to a permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator.