Keep Wild Life Wild

As warmer weather approaches, the Wis consin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding the public that wild animals and their young will be on the move across Wisconsin.

Knowing what to do before you find a baby animal can make all the diuerence in the mo ment to protect its health and keep wild life wild. The DNR has various resources to help determine when baby wild animals need help and when it’s best to leave them in their natural environment.

I’m reminded of a situation a few years ago when I received a phone call from my brother- in-law who resides in St. Paul. After travel ing and arriving at his cabin on Pipe Lake in Barron County, he noticed a fawn lying near his front doorstep. He was concerned about the fawn and asked if I had any suggestions as to what he should do. I explained to him that most frequently, it is perfectly natural for mothers, especially white tail deer, to leave their young alone for long periods of time shortly after they’re born. Before fawns are strong enough to keep up with their mothers, they spend hours alone staying quiet and still. This natural behavior keeps them safe from predators while their mothers forage for food.

After explaining that continually drawing attention to a fawn's location can tip ou pred ators or keep the fawn’s mother away longer than necessary, my brother-in-law left the fawn alone. He called to inform me that the fawn was gone the next morning.

Many other young wild animals, besides

fawns, spend time alone in the spring and summer. For species-specific advice, visit the DNR’s Keep Wild Life Wild webpage for tips on how to decide if a young wild animal is truly orphaned or in need of help. You can also use the bird, mammal or fawn keys for guidance on evaluating wild life situations and choosing appropriate course of action.

If you find a baby animal in an unsafe loca tion, such as near a roadway, you can carefully move it a few yards to a safer spot. The young animal's mother will find her young if moved only a short distance. Just consider your own safety when walking on or near a road. Contrary to popular belief, human scent transfer does not cause wild animals to reject their young, but avoid touching the baby animal unless absolutely necessary.

If you find a wild animal that appears sick or injured, take pictures and make notes about what you are observing then call the DNR or a licensed rehabilitator for guidance. Visit the DNR website for a directory of rehabilitators in your area.

If the wildlife rehabilitator you talk to determines that the wild animal needs rehabilitation, place the animal inside a ventilated container. Place the container somewhere that is dark, warm and quiet until you can arrange transport to a licensed rehabilitator. Reduce stress on the animal by keeping children and pets away. Do not provide food or water as this can do more harm than good. For more information, see the DNR Recommendations For Transporting Wildlife webpage.

The author took this picture of a newborn fawn lying in his yard.

The dock, which showed extensive wear and vandalism damage, was removed last fall and transported to Ashland, Wisconsin where it was refurbished and updated by the DNR for future use.

May 11, 2022