Maryland Dept of Natural Resources
  DNR Home

Leave Wildlife in the Wild

Did you know that all species of wildlife have very specific needs for survival? Many people, with the best of intentions, feed wildlife or “rescue” what they think are sick or injured wildlife. You may actually be doing more harm than good by handling and caring for wild animals and it is a violation of Maryland law to keep wildlife captive.

Most species do not respond well to human care and, if they survive, do not assimilate well back into the wild. Wildlife can easily become stressed by interference from people. This stress can ultimately be detrimental to their health. Also, it is important to remember that wild animals of any size can be dangerous, especially a female protecting her young.

If you come across an animal that you believe may be sick or injured please call 877-463-6497 or go to

Facts About Feeding Wildlife
• Feeding wildlife can lead to the spread of disease
• Wild animals can be dangerous
• Feeding leads to crowding and crowding causes stress
• Supplemental food sources do not contribute to a wildlife population’s well being
• An overabundance of individuals can result in habitat degradation
• Wild animals need habitat not handouts
Read more

White-tailed Deer
Think Twice Before Rescuing that Fawn

Did you know does will often leave their fawns alone for several hours at a time? The doe returns to feed and care for the fawns several times a day. After about 3 weeks the fawns are strong enough to keep up with their mother and will stay with her. If you see a fawn in the wild please leave it alone and rest assured the mother is not far away.

Why is it illegal to keep deer as pets?
Captive deer pose a significant threat to Maryland’s native wildlife and a potential threat to domestic livestock and people. Wild animals held in captivity often suffer higher stress brought about by a reduction in immunity from nutritional deficiencies and from the stress of being held in captivity. There is an increase in the risk of disease transmission when animals are held in a confined area. There is also a significant risk of transmission of diseases from captive deer to free ranging wildlife.

Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord of deer and elk, specifically white-tailed deer, moose, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain elk. Maryland’s goal is to be proactive regarding the threat of this disease in an attempt to safeguard Maryland’s wildlife resources for future generations.

Black bears, once nearly extirpated from Maryland’s landscape, have made a remarkable comeback over the past several years. Today bears are found primarily in western Maryland with the highest populations residing in Allegany and Garrett Counties. Black bears are an important part of Maryland’s natural history and provide interesting wildlife viewing opportunities to those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this solitary animal. Care should be taken if you encounter a black bear and they should never be feed or approached.

Commonly asked Questions
Living with Black Bears
Black Bear Conservation Stamp Program
Keep Maryland’s Black Bears Wild

Whether we find them beautiful and beneficial or frightening, snakes hold a certain fascination for most people. Snakes play an important role in Maryland’s and like all wildlife is best left in the wild.
All about snakes in Maryland
Snakes in the Basement?

Many people see young birds on the ground and assume that they are injured and take them inside. Chances are it’s a young bird learning to fly and the adult is close by. If you think it has fallen out of the nest place the bird back into the nest or on a tree branch. Human scent on a bird will not discourage adult birds from caring for the young. Birds can easily become habituated to people and have very specific needs for survival so it is best to leave them in the wild. If you find a bird that you think is injured or sick please call the sick and injured animal hotline at 877-463-6497.

Email us with questions, comments, and suggestions
  © Copyright 1995-2010 Maryland Department of Natural Resources 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
DNR Privacy Policy