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Ky. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife: Young Animals Best Left Undisturbed

From the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife

As more people venture outdoors with the onset of warmer weather, encounters with newborn animals are likely to occur. Though young wildlife may seem vulnerable, the mother is likely nearby.

This is why the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources recommends leaving young animals undisturbed.

“This time of year, anyone spending time outdoors has the chance of accidentally stumbling upon baby animals,” said Ben Robinson, assistant director of the department’s Wildlife Division. “The parents will often leave their young unattended, but they usually aren’t too far away.”

Late spring, the peak of deer fawning season, also brings an influx of calls to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife from well-intentioned people concerned about seemingly abandoned young wildlife.

“The best thing to do is leave them alone, even if they look abandoned. Chances are, they’re just fine,” Robinson said. “The mother will be watching and listening from a distance.”

Deer fawns are carefully groomed by their mothers to minimize their scent and therefore reduce vulnerability to predators. They survive by spending much of their time motionless and bedded down until they are about a month old. At that age, they are strong enough to follow their mother. The fawn’s reddish-brown coat patterned with pale spots helps camouflage them in dappled sunlight.

Landowners who encounter a fawn that is in the way of cutting hay or mowing can move it a short distance out of the way. The mother should still be able to find the fawn using sight, vocalization or scent when she returns to nurse it.

In instances where a fawn is obviously injured or where the mother deer was observed being hit by a car, a wildlife rehabilitator can be called. All wildlife should still be left alone.

Only permitted wildlife rehabilitators may keep orphaned or injured wildlife. For a searchable list of wildlife rehabilitators, visit fw.ky.gov.

Songbirds, some reptiles and amphibians, and most mammals also raise young during the springtime.

“Rabbits can start nesting as early as February and they’ll go throughout the spring and summer months,” Robinson said. “Often times, people will stumble across a rabbit den in their yard or at a park and wonder what they can do to help. The best thing they can do is simply leave it alone.”

Placing a flag or a stake near the spot can help mark the nest site for reference when mowing in the future.

“Newly hatched songbirds are also going to be out and about learning to fly, so don’t be alarmed if you see them on the ground, awkwardly trying to fly. Parents are still looking after them,” Robinson said.

Nature at its most innocent can seem fragile, but wildlife has developed instincts over millennia from which to draw upon while raising their young. When it comes to springtime’s natural newborn wonders, it is best for humans to simply observe from a safe distance.

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