TWRA offices receive an increase in calls regarding abandoned wildlife each spring. Calls received are most often about typical wildlife behavior and not truly abandoned young. Following are a few tips to keep wildlife wild.
Wild animals know what they are doing when it comes to raising offspring. Kirk Miles, TWRA Wildlife Program Manager said, “Many people believe young wildlife to be abandoned, when they’ve simply been concealed by their mothers. If an animal isn’t obviously sick or injured, please leave it alone. This concealment strategy in the animal kingdom works. The mother will tend to her offspring when the area is safe.”
Typical calls received by the agency include birds out of nests, young rabbits exposed in their nest, squirrels fallen from a nest and white-tail fawns found abandoned. In most cases, humans should just leave the animal. The presence of humans can deter wildlife from tending to their young.
Whitetail Fawns: People come across fawns in flowerbeds or tree lines and believe they’re abandoned. On the contrary, whitetails leave fawns hidden and only approach them to allow feeding. If a fawn is accidently spooked and runs, don’t follow it. The doe will find it. Furthermore, does behaving oddly in a backyard are sometimes aggravated when humans or pets are close to their hidden fawns. Never approach an adult deer. Leave the area and keep pets away.
Cottontail Rabbits: Young rabbits are left in a shallow scraped nest and are covered with vegetation. People accidently expose young rabbits when doing yardwork. Simply cover young rabbits back up and leave them alone. Should they run from the nest, leave them. If they can run, they’re old enough to be on their own and they’ll eventually make their way back to the nest. The mother will return. Pets should simply be leashed if wildlife is nearby.
Squirrels: A young squirrel can fall from a nest. If a squirrel is uninjured, it should be left alone. Young are most often carried back to the nest by their mothers. If the squirrel is exposed in an unsafe spot, place it with a bit of natural debris, such as leaf matter, in a box under the tree. If an entire squirrel nests falls, take the exact same action. Squirrels typically build more than one nest and they will retrieve their young.
Birds: Place any fallen young bird back in the nest. It is a myth that human scent will deter parent birds. If the young bird flies again, then it is fledging and ready to leave the nest. Parent birds will continue feeding young, even out of the nest.
Tnwildlife.org has a list of wildlife rehabilitators from across the state, should someone come across a wild animal that is obviously injured or sick. For more information visit: tnwildlife.org and search for “rehabilitators”.