Wildlife Babies Belong in the Wild
As predictable as April showers and May flowers, the calls to Iowa conservation officers and fish and wildlife stations is a sure sign that Iowa’s wildlife baby season has officially begun. From now until at least mid-June, phone lines will buzz from hundreds of calls reporting “lost, stranded, or orphaned” wildlife.
From fuzzy yellow ducklings to tiny baby bunnies, nothing appears more cute and cuddly than baby wildlife. It's really no mystery why humans feel so compelled to come to their aid. But in reality, most of the wildlife babies people encounter are not orphaned at all. And those who attempt to "save" these babies may have the very best intentions they are in fact dooming the very creatures they intend to help.
Regardless of species, most birds and mammals will leave their nests or dens well in advance of being able to care for themselves. Although broods or litters may become widely scattered during this fledgling period, they still remain under the direct care and feeding of their parents. Unfortunately, this care is often terminated when youngsters are discovered by humans. In most cases, it is immediately assumed that the animals are orphaned -- that their mother is dead. Their fate becomes sealed as the hapless creatures are promptly "rescued from the wild". It happens every spring.
Most wildlife babies will perish soon after capture -- often from the sheer terror of being handled and confined. Should an animal survive the initial trauma, it often succumbs more slowly to pneumonia, other diseases, or undernourishment. Whether young or adult, all species of wildlife have highly specific needs for survival. "Rescuing a baby from its mother" not only shows bad judgment -- it is also illegal.
Remember this simple message: Mother knows best. Leave wildlife babies where they belong -- in the wild.