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Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild

  • 4/17/2015 8:05:00 AM
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Don't try to rescue 'orphaned' wildlife babies from the wild - their parents are likely nearby. Or call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. | Iowa DNRIf you find an animal baby that appears to be on its own, don’t worry. Generally, one of its parents is nearby, watching. 

They’re teaching their offspring to be independent, and in the case of danger, some animal parents will take off in order to create a distraction away from their young.

Many people “rescue” wildlife babies they believe to be abandoned. But when you take that “orphaned” rabbit out of the nest or that raccoon out of the tree, you’re taking that baby away from its parents, its natural setting and a chance to live in the wild. Many times, taking an animal out of the wild greatly reduces its chances of survival. 

In most cases, these wildlife babies perish soon after capture. If an animal does survive the initial trauma of being captured and confined, it often succumbs more slowly to pneumonia, other diseases or malnutrition.

However, if you know for a fact that the babies’ parent has died, or if it’s clear the animal is injured, a wildlife rehabilitator can help. Rehabilitators receive extensive training, including an apprenticeship, to learn how to care for animals and reintroduce them to the wild. They know when to feed them, how to feed them, how to treat injuries and they have the space and equipment to house the animals.

Do not try to take the animal in yourself – not only could it present a safety risk to both you and the animal – it’s also illegal, as wild mammals are protected by state law and wild birds are protected by state and federal law.

If there is not a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you, contact your local conservation officer or animal control officer.

Contact information for licensed Iowa wildlife rehabilitators