FROM THE WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
As the warmer spring approaches, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds the public that wildlife and their young will be moving across Wisconsin.
Knowing what to do before you find a baby animal can make all the difference in the moment to protecting its health and helping to keep wildlife in check. MNR has a variety of resources to help determine when baby wild animals need help and when it is best to leave them in their natural environment.
If you care, leave them there
First, remember the phrase “If you care about them, leave them there”.
Most of the time, it is perfectly natural for mothers, including white-tailed deer, to leave their young alone for long periods of time. Before the fawns are strong enough to follow their mother, they spend hours alone, remaining calm and still. This natural behavior protects them from predators while their mothers search for food.
Drawing attention to a fawn’s location can warn off predators or keep its mother away longer than she would like. You can help by keeping people and pets away from the area. If you have interested children, they can learn to guard wildlife by watching the fawn from a safe distance.
Many other young wild animals spend time alone in spring and summer. For species-specific advice, visit the DNR’s Keep Wildlife Wild webpage for tips on how to decide if a young wild animal is truly orphaned or in need of help. You can also use the bird, mammal or fawn keys to guide you in assessing wildlife situations and choosing an appropriate course of action.
Know when to move a baby animal
If you find a baby animal in a dangerous location, such as near a road, you can carefully move it several feet to a safer location. Before taking action, be sure to put on gloves and a face mask to protect the health of the animal. Also consider your own safety when walking near a road.
The mother of the young animal will find her young if it is only moved a short distance. Human scent transfer does not cause wild animals to reject their young, but avoid touching the baby animal unless absolutely necessary.
Help sick or injured wild animals
If you find a wild animal that appears sick or injured, leave it alone. Take pictures and write down what you observe. Then call MNR or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for advice. Visit the MNR website for a directory of rehabilitators in your area.
If the wildlife rehabilitator you speak to determines that a wildlife animal needs rehabilitation, place the animal in a ventilated container. Place the container in a dark, warm, quiet place until you can arrange transport to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Reduce pet stress by keeping children and pets away. Do not provide food or water; it can do more harm than good. See our Recommendations for transporting wild animals webpage for more information.