MADISON — There’s excitement in Wisconsin’s woods as young wildlife begin to emerge, making spring a great time to observe wildlife.
However, a multi-agency Keep Wildlife Wild committee is reminding wildlife observers to watch the fun from afar.
“We need to resist our well-intentioned temptation to interact with a young animal we perceive to be on its own,” said Dianne Robinson, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, who chairs the committee. “Human interaction often does more harm than good in these situations.”
Licensed wildlife rehabilitator and member of the Keep Wildlife Wild committee Cheryl Diehl says never assume an animal is orphaned. “Some wildlife mothers leave their young unattended to gather food or to protect them from predators,” she said. “It may seem to the human eye the young are not being cared for because you can’t see the mother. Chances are she knows you’re there.”
Experts suggest watching the animal through binoculars during the day. If the animal is genuinely orphaned or injured, don’t touch the animal and contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
DNR Wildlife Biologist Julie Widholm says wildlife species vary on how they care for their young, and that’s why this is an interesting time to learn more about Wisconsin’s animals.
“Young rabbits are left alone in their nest, concealed by grass or vegetation. The mother returns to feed her young and leaves to reduce detection of the nest site by predators,” Widholm said. “Young raccoons are often seen playing in trees or yards without their mother, but she is nearby. Fledgling songbirds leave nests without parental supervision and before they are capable of flight. Fawns are born with spots and very little scent to hide them from predators. A fawn found lying still and by itself should be left alone.”
Robinson offers these tips to help prevent orphaned or injured wildlife situations:
- Control family pets when outdoors.
- Stay alert for wildlife on roads.
- Place covers on window wells so small animals do not get trapped. Seal off spaces under decks or buildings, and spaces in attics, garages, orbuildings so wild animals cannot make nests.
- Make potential food items inaccessible to wild animals, including pet food and garbage.
- Be careful if nuisance trapping adult wild animals during warmer months. You may unknowingly separate wild animal adults from their young.