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Leave young animals alone in the wild

As signs of spring arrive, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds the public to give baby animals plenty of space.

Each spring brings a new generation of wildlife. While you’re enjoying the sights of the season, allow wildlife to raise their young while you watch from a distance.

While young animals are often left alone, the parents are never far. This is especially true for rabbits and fawns.

“One survival strategy wild mammal moms use is hiding their young while they are elsewhere, but don’t worry; they will return periodically to nurse and care for the babies,” said Hannah Schauer, DNR wildlife communications coordinator. “This tactic helps young animals stay safer from predators while mom goes elsewhere to avoid drawing attention to where they’re hidden.”

Eventually, the youngsters will be strong and fast enough to venture out on their own or accompany their mother.

“As we get later into spring and into the summer you might see fledgling birds hopping around on the ground, and this is completely normal,” said Schauer. “These fluffy youngsters are getting old enough to start trying to fly and need more space than the nest has. Their parents aren’t far and will continue to feed and care for them.”

Never remove an animal from the wild. Young animals are rarely abandoned and their best chance for survival is to remain in the wild.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to have a live wild animal in Michigan.

Baby animals removed from the wild may become too acclimated to humans and, thus, unable to return to the wild. But there are also concerns about the animals getting more aggressive once they are older and reach maturity.

To learn more about what to do if you find a baby animal and get a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, go online to Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

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