Public cautioned to leave young wildlife alone

PRATT — Each spring, well-meaning Kansans see deer fawns or other young wildlife and assume that they have been abandoned. In almost all cases, the mother is actually nearby, keeping a hidden eye on her young. If those well-meaning folks decide to "rescue" the young animal, they are usually giving it a death sentence.

Many wildlife species have their young in May, and even throughout the summer. If found alone, these young animals are tempting targets for the misinformed. Many "wildlife kidnapping" incidents are reported each year. Young raccoons, deer, foxes, and other mammals, as well as birds, are often picked up. The young usually fail to survive in captivity, and they rarely can be rehabilitated and released. Spring is also a time that many people trim or cut down old trees, but caution is urged before doing so. Make sure that no birds are nesting in trees before cutting, and if they are, leave the cutting until the young have fledged.

Picking up these young animals — under any circumstances — is against the law. Both the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Health and Environment have regulations against such activity.

Wild animals do not make good pets, and bringing them into the house may expose families and domestic pets to diseases such as rabies and distemper. They cannot legally be inoculated by veterinarians, and few people really know how to care for them. If you see young animals in the wild this spring or summer, consider yourself lucky. But remember, their mother is most likely hunting or watching nearby. Leave them in the wild world where they belong and have the best chance to survive.