Deer in Spring Landscape

Think Twice Before "Rescuing" Young Wildlife

Each year the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) receives numerous calls from citizens who, with the Photo of White-tailed Fawn courtesy of USDA, Natural Resource best of intentions, have “rescued” a young wild animal and are seeking tips on how to properly care for it. These people are in fact endangering the lives of these baby rabbits, deer, birds and ducks by interfering with their natural adaptation and learning of basic survival skills.

Spring is a time when many native species are busy raising their young and it can be very enjoyable to watch – but do so from a distance! It is also the time of year that people are most apt to think they have come across an abandoned animal. Young wildlife may seem to be abandoned and helpless when in all likelihood their mothers are actually close by. Many species, such as the Eastern cottontail rabbit, return to their nests under the cover of darkness to feed and care for their young. White-tailed deer commonly hide their fawns in deep grass, coming back hours later to care for them. The baby bird that has fallen to the ground is probably just learning to fly under its mother’s close supervision.

Young animals are very cute and it’s often hard to resist the urge to help them, but remember, by interfering with them, more harm than good is done. Their chances of survival are much better if left in their natural surroundings to be raised by their mothers.

- Photo of White-tailed Fawn courtesy of USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service