Found an orphaned animal?
What to do when you encounter young wildlife that you feel has been orphaned:
The best chance of survival for all wildlife is to grow up under the watchful eye of a caring mother in the environment that they were born into. Most young wildlife that you might encounter does not need to be rescued. It is natural to want to help, but in most cases it is best to leave them alone. Always remember that however concerned you are about their welfare, their own mother is always more concerned, and she better equipped to care for them than you are.
Parenting is a very big job for all animals. Mothers spend much of their time either eating, so they can produce milk, or gathering food to feed their hungry families. For much of the time the babies are left alone. The mother is probably not too far away and the babies are fine. If you come across a nest, or a baby fawn, it is best to leave the area so that the mother does not feel threatened.
Some animals have more than one nest. You may come across an infant that seems out of place. It could be that the mother is moving them from one nest to another. She will probably be back shortly. It is best to leave the area so the mother does not feel threatened. Give her plenty of time before you check to see that she has come back for the infant and that all is well.
If you feel certain that a young animal is in distress and are not sure what to do, ask first before you do something that might prove to be wrong. The DEC can assist you with information and the name of a rehabilitator in your area who can help if you are not local to us.
When you know for sure that something is wrong or that the mother has died, call for help. Don’t panic and remember your own safety as well as the safety of the animal. Don’t give them food or water - just get help.
It is human nature to want to take this adorable helpless creature home and make it your own. Unfortunately, not only is it illegal to possess wildlife, it is a much bigger commitment than you realize and they deserve the best chance at being returned to the wild.
If you do think you need help after reading this article, then please go to our contact page and reach out to us for assistance!