I used to run a nature information line and in the spring we would have any number of people calling with concerns about “abandoned” baby animals. I didn’t mind the phone calls to be honest as it meant the person called before taking action. Generally the advice is the same, look for actual signs of injury or illness. If you don’t see any, let the animal be.
Our frame of reference are humans who need constant monitoring but for many wild animals being left alone is the safest thing that can happen. The white tailed prairie hare, commonly called a jackrabbit, leaves their babies for most of the day. The mother’s presence can actually attract predators, so she leaves and the babies rely on their camouflage and ability to freeze to stay hidden from predators. This is a survival strategy that seems incomprehensible to us but it works.
Baby birds, on the other hand, are most often spotted on the ground after they first start learning how to fly. It seems terrifying to us, a baby falls meters to the ground as they first start to stretch their wings. But much like humans learning to ride a bike by starting at the top of the hill and pushing our bikes back up the hill again and again until we finally succeed, the bird needs the opportunity to keep trying to fly.
Apparently, a recent concern for WildNorth the Northern Alberta wildlife rescue & rehabilitation organization is people trying to rescue animals from predator attacks. As hard as it may be for us to see, please remember that this is a necessary part of the world and stepping in is not a good plan.
Given our current situation, I worry that we might have more opportunities to mistake a natural and healthy situation for one where an animal is in need of help. Please call before you act because that call might save a critters life.
Search your local wildlife rehabilitation organization so you know who to call and if you can consider helping them out because they do so much good.
I think it was two years ago now, I had someone come up my driveway, which is a huge hill, to tell me there was a fawn at the end of the driveway in the road. They said they moved it so it wouldn’t get hit. I went down and I found it laying on the side, it looked like it had died but I could see it breathing a little. I picked it up and brought it up the hill. I called my neighbor who is a wildlife rehabilitator and she asked what was going on. At this point the little thing was breathing again and beginning to open its eyes. I was so relieved it hadn’t died! I was going to call the vet but my Mary said its mother would probably be back for it so I should bring it back down the hill. I picked the baby up and carried it down the hill. About two feet from where I was going to put it down, it starting kicking and I had to to put it down. He/she took off into the brambles. Strange carrying it and going through all that and then it finally “woke” up. I was happy it was alive!
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