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Archive for Thursday, April 20, 2006

Intervening on behalf of abandoned animals depends on situation

April 20, 2006

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Spring brings new life to our landscapes: fresh flowers, green leaves and baby animals of all sorts. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find young birds, rabbits and squirrels on their own, seemingly left to protect themselves from the evils of nature. But sometimes it is not safe to assume that these creatures are frail and alone. Here is what you need to know and what you can do when you find an abandoned animal in your area.

Mother Nature's world is very different from our own. In our world, mothers give birth and raise their young for many years before they are turned out to the wild. In Mother Nature's world, animals give birth, and then nature takes over. Many times, infant creatures are left to fend for themselves as parents leave for extended periods of time to find food and water. The sad reality is that not all infants survive. They cannot. It is not part of the greater plan. In Mother Nature's world, only the strong survive. The weak are lost or become food for a more dominant species. This circle of life ensures the survival of all life - yours, mine and all the world's creatures.

All too often, humans try to relate to wildlife on a human level. Although it may sound noble, it is not realistic. If you happen upon an abandoned wildlife infant, step back and evaluate the situation. First, without touching the creature, visually inspect it for obvious physical damage. If major bodily harm is apparent, it might be best to humanely put the creature out of its pain and suffering. If not physically injured, determine whether it is abandoned or just trying to learn how to grow up. For example, many bird species will leave the nest before they can fly - even before they have all of their feathers. By putting a fledgling back in the nest, it will only jump out again to assert its independence, risking the chance of getting hurt again by the fall. In these instances, it is best to leave well enough alone. If the nest seems to be physically damaged and the bird is obviously too small to fly, try to rebuild the nest as best as possible and replace the baby bird. Likewise, if you find a disturbed family of baby bunnies during daylight hours, try to locate the nest. Cottontail rabbits hide their nests in plain view. Usually, they are shallow depressions in the open and are lined with grass and fur. Replace the bunnies and cover them with as much nesting material as possible. Do not worry as mothers do not abandon their young if they have been touched by human beings. Next, keep an eye on the infants. If no signs of parental interaction take place for the day and through the night, it is possible that the parents have been injured and are not able to return. If that is the case, contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitation agency.

Long story made short, baby animals only should receive special attention when they are sick or injured, when you know the parents are dead or when there is no way to return them to their original home. Otherwise, it is best to leave the infant alone and let the call of the wild be its guide.

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