Does baby wildlife need our help?

Fawns are often left unattended by their mothers for hours. Photo courtesy Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

As we spring into summer, it’s easy to notice the highly active wildlife in your neighborhood. Baby animals are out and about, and Lake Erie Nature & Science Center is answering some of the most common questions they receive from concerned callers during their busiest season of the year.

I noticed a fawn alone in the grass. Is it abandoned?

Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature and mothers will often leave their young unattended for hours. For instance, a fawn lying quietly by itself is perfectly normal. Deer do this to protect their young, as the presence of an adult would attract the attention of predators. If a fawn seems to be in a “dangerous” location, do not move it or the mother will have trouble finding her baby.

If a fawn is walking around and making noise, it may be abandoned and in need of assistance. Always call the Center’s wildlife staff at 440-471-8357 before intervening.

A nest of baby bunnies is in the middle of my yard. Should I move them?

Eastern cottontail rabbits often build their nests in yards and open spaces. If you stumble across one, do not move the baby bunnies or their mother will be unable to find them. She will return at dusk and dawn to feed and groom her babies.

Baby animals are vulnerable, yet resilient. Pets, predators and automobiles are all a natural part of their urban and suburban environments. Remember that baby wildlife must grow up among these circumstances in order to learn how to successfully co-exist with them.

A baby squirrel fell from a tree. Should I feed it?

Squirrels often maintain more than one nest site and will retrieve their babies when they end up out of the nest too early.

Baby wildlife will never receive the same quality of care from humans as they would receive from their natural parents. Each species requires a specialized diet, and feeding an animal the wrong food can be harmful to its health. Human care can cause serious damage to the animal and should be seen as a last resort.

I see a baby bird that can’t fly. Should I help it?

A baby bird with skin still visible or only covered in downy feathers should be placed back in the nest or in an artificial nest. If fully feathered but unable to fly, the bird is a fledgling that should be left alone to learn critical survival behaviors.

If you have questions about wildlife, contact the Center’s wildlife staff at 440-471-8357 before intervening. The Center is the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in Cuyahoga County and operates 7 days a week between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Morgan Paskert

Morgan Paskert is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:24 AM, 06.04.2019