Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Leave the baby animals alone

Mother animals often leave their young as they forage


With campers and other outdoors enthusiasts heading out to the woods, well-meaning folks often find baby birds and other animals that seem to be abandoned, a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game states. The agency is asking people to leave them alone.

Late May and early June make up the peak fawning and calving season for Idaho's elk, deer and pronghorn antelope.

"We have people calling us or bringing baby animals to the office every year," said Regan Berkley, Magic Valley regional wildlife biologist. "Even though their intentions are good, it isn't the best thing for the animals."

According to Fish and Game, mother animals often leave their young as they forage. If they return to their young to find people milling around, they will often leave the area and come back after the people have left.

"If people bring young animals into the office we don't have many options," Berkley said. "We can attempt to return them back to where they were found, and hope their mother finds them, or we can see if any area zoos want them.

"During early summer, the baby is simply too young to survive on its own. Placing the animal in a zoo also doesn't always work, because zoos don't always have space for additional animals, particularly at this time of year."

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If the animal is successfully placed in a zoo, it means it is removed from the wild forever. If neither returning the animal to the wild nor sending it to a zoo are good options, biologists have to consider whether euthanasia is the most humane alternative.

"Basically, the only really good option is for the baby to stay in the wild in the first place," Berkley said.

It is illegal for people to possess wild animals. People found with a wild animal without a permit can be issued a citation, and the animal will be removed from their control. Animals raised in confinement are often killed because of the possibility of disease and lack of ability to survive on their own.

Smaller animals, like rabbits and birds, should also be left alone. In nature, mother knows best, Fish and Game says.

For more information, call Fish and Game's Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com




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