This advice extends to young or presumed abandoned wildlife. Young animals are usually not abandoned, and the parents will retrieve them, especially when left alone by humans. A wild animal, even when young, is capable of biting, scratching and transmitting diseases and parasites to humans and pets.
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Many wild animals are raised by only one adult and are not tended to during daylight hours. For example, a doe white-tailed deer will hide her fawn from predators alone in a secluded spot, such as a meadow or flower bed. The doe tends to the fawn several times each night.
Do not capture and attempt to care for animals. State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife and endangered species in Ohio. Only persons known as rehabilitators, under special permits issued by the ODNR Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife and Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (OWRA) offers the following advice to reduce human interference with wildlife:
- Think before you act. Check for nests before mowing, cutting trees or clearing brush. It is best to cut trees and clear brush in the autumn when nesting season is over.
- Leave the animal in the wild. If a person disturbs a nest, he or she should wear gloves and replace the animal and the nest material to the original location or as close as possible. It’s a myth that wildlife parents will not tend to their young because of human scent. Wildlife parents are devoted parents, and most birds don’t even have a sense of smell.
- Keep pets under control so they do not raid nests and injure wild animals. Keep pets inoculated against parasites and diseases.
- Educate children to respect wildlife and their habitat. Tell children not to handle wild animals.
- Contact the local wildlife official or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before taking action. Trust and follow the advice of these trained professionals. Call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) with questions.
More information about how animals care for their young and a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators is available at wildohio.com. Visit the OWRA website at owra.org to learn more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.