WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – The Department of Natural Resources said kind-hearted Hoosiers “rescue” an injured, or seemingly abandoned, baby wild animal and try to care for it. But DNR officials with Fish & Wildlife said, “don’t do it.”
If you come across a nest, leave it alone. DNR said the best place for these animals is in the wild, learning to fend for themselves. In the hands of an untrained person, an animal is unlikely to survive when returned to the wild.
“Most baby animals are not abandoned,” Michelle Cain, DNR wildlife information specialist, said in a news release. “Many animals leave their young alone when searching for food and come back to them throughout the day. They also use this as a way to deter predators because a predator may follow the mother back to its young.”
Cain said picking up a baby wild animal is illegal. It can harm the animal and takes it out of its natural environment. In addition, it is illegal to treat wild animals for sickness or injury without a permit.
Call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, if you believe the animal is truly abandoned or you know that the mother is dead. They are properly educated to care for wild animals.
Wild animals often pose safety and health risks for humans. DNR said they may look cute and cuddly, but they can bite or scratch, and some may carry parasites and infectious diseases.
Cain said the best way to make sure an animal is orphaned is to wait, and check on it periodically. She said it helps to place some sticks or grass across the nest. If such items are later disturbed, the mother has probably returned so leave the young animal alone.
However, DNR officials said if a bird has fallen out of a nest, it is OK to gently return it.
If you need further assistance, call DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife at 317-232-4080 or DNR Law Enforcement at 812-837-9536.