This is the time of year when baby wildlife begin showing up around the region. Each spring, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks receives calls from people who have picked up deer fawns or other wildlife. It’s important to remember that the state wildlife agency no longer accepts, holds or rehabilitates moose, deer, elk and most other animals.
Often times, people think they are rescuing an orphaned animal. However, it’s important to understand that wildlife care for their young much differently than humans. They have strategies to provide the highest chance of survival for their young.
One strategy that some species, particularly those species that are more commonly seen as prey, use is to distance themselves from their young for many hours at a time. This helps to keep predators away from their young. For example, fawns are born without a scent and it is safer for them if their mother, who has a scent, is not nearby.
Fish Wildlife and Parks believes wild animals thrive better in the wild where they have plenty of natural habitat and thrive better with other wildlife than with humans. The potential to spread wildlife disease is also a good reason to leave young wildlife alone. Baby ground squirrels, racoons and rabbits can carry zoonotic diseases, which means diseases that are infectious for humans. Examples include plague, hemorrhagic diseases and tularemia.
Fish Wildlife and Parks urges the public, if you see a baby animal, whether a goose or a grizzly, keep your distance and leave it alone.