PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds the public to leave baby wildlife alone. As temperatures rise and days grow longer, newborns of many species of wildlife are beginning to explore the world around them.
AZGFD encourages people to resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned animals, including baby birds and young rabbits, as a parent is likely nearby and will return once humans have left the area.
“Picking up or ‘rescuing’ baby wildlife is often unnecessary and can have negative consequences. While the intention is well-meaning, the ‘rescue’ often results in a newborn or juvenile animal being taken from its parents, which are likely just out foraging for food and water,” said Stacey Sekscienski, wildlife education program manager. “This can often leave a parent searching for its young, and wildlife raised by humans is less likely to survive if released back into the wild.”
Once they’ve been removed from the wild, some species of baby animals, such as elk calves or deer fawns, may even have to be euthanized because they cannot be released back into the wild due to disease concerns. In addition, zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries have limited space to hold them.
Each year, wildlife centers around the state are inundated with baby birds, rabbits and other wildlife that were unnecessarily taken from the wild.
The public should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if they encounter an animal that is clearly sick or injured with wounds or broken bones; is unresponsive or lethargic; has been attacked by a cat or dog; or there is strong evidence that the mother is dead.
Young wildlife found in a yard or in the field is rarely abandoned. Typically, once the perceived predator (perhaps a dog, cat, or person) leaves the area, one or both parents will return and continue to care for the young.
Baby birds are the most common wildlife species encountered by the public and removed from the wild. Additionally, eggs of ground-nesting birds like quail should be left in place when discovered.
“It’s reassuring to know our Arizona community is passionate about caring for wild animals, but most often, the best thing anyone can do is just to leave baby wildlife alone,” Sekscienski said.