LENSC urges “hands off” approach to baby wildlife

A fawn found lying quietly by itself with no mother in sight is perfectly normal. Deer do this to protect their young, as the presence of an adult would attract the attention of predators.

A sure sign (or sound) of spring at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is the constant ringing of the phone with calls about baby wildlife. The Center's Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program staff welcomes and encourages these calls and offers free advice in order to head off unnecessary human intervention by well-intentioned but uninformed “rescuers.” Some things to keep in mind about the wild babies you encounter in your backyard:

• Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature. Wildlife mothers often leave their babies unattended for hours. Even if one parent has died, in many cases, the remaining parent can ably take care of the babies.

• Baby wild animals DO NOT need to be protected from the natural dangers in their lives. Cats and dogs, cars, streets and parking lots are all a natural part of the life of an urban/suburban wild animal. They NEED to grow up among these things in order to learn how to successfully co-exist with them.

• Wild animals DO NOT abandon their babies due to the smell of humans. Birds, in fact, cannot even smell anything! While mammals can smell very well, the scent of humans is not nearly enough of a danger signal to cause a mother to “go against” all of her hormonal and instinctual maternal behaviors.

• Baby animals will never be able to receive the same quality of care from humans as they get from their natural parents. Human care, to some extent, is always damaging to the baby animal. For this reason, human intervention should always be the absolute last resort, and should occur only if the baby has NO chance of surviving in the wild.

A free fact sheet, "I Found Baby Wildlife – Does It Need Help?", is available online at http://www.lensc.org/wildlife/faq.htm. It includes animal specific advice about baby wildlife.

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center urges everyone to call for advice before interfering with any wild animal – adult or baby – for the safety of people and for the protection of the wildlife. Rehab staff can be reached at 440-871-2900, ext. 204, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Rehab staff has been certified to perform wildlife rehabilitation by the International Wildlife Rehabilitators Council, receives continuing education, and has all of the appropriate state and federal permits required to perform wildlife rehabilitation.

The Center’s Kenneth A. Scott Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program provides rehab services at no charge to the public, relying on donations to take in approximately 1,000 injured and ill wild animals each year, with the goal of release back into the wild. Staffers also field 4,000 phone calls annually, educating callers one at a time about how to coexist with wildlife. The donor-funded nonprofit Center is located in the at 28728 Wolf Road in Bay Village. For more information, log on to www.lensc.org or call 440-871-2900.

Shawn Salamone

Shawn Salamone is Community Relations Coordinator at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 4:41 PM, 05.03.2011