What to do when you find baby animals in your yard

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Spring is here and that means baby animals can be spotted in your yard. Although you may see a baby animal that looks like it may need assistance, MassWildlife is asking you to wait before you try to help.

You may think you are helping a newborn animal but you could actually be doing more harm than good when removing an animal from nature. Spotting a young animal alone does not mean it’s been abandoned or needs to be rescued. Adult animals are usually nearby and only visit their young occasionally to avoid predators.

Young animals removed from nature deny them important natural learning experiences that help them survive on their own. Caring for a young animal can result in an attachment or reliance on that person and in return can cause the animal to be attacked by domestic animals or hit by a car. MassWildlife is offering tips on what to do when you see a baby bird, fawn or young mammal.

Finding a baby bird

Baby birds most likely never need assistance from a person unless you see a clear sign of injury, like a broken wing. If you spot a hatchling or nestling (a baby bird without feathers) outside of their nest, you can attempt to return it to its nest. Birds will not reject hatchlings if you touch it.

A fledgling (a young bird fully feathered) does not need help outside the nest and you should leave it alone. It may look helpless on the ground but parents are usually nearby caring for it. You can relocate a fledgling to a nearby area if it is near danger like a roadway.

Finding a fawn

Young deer are born in late May and early June. Fawn are commonly seen alone in the forest and sometimes even in your yard. If you see a fawn alone, you should leave it alone. It is normal behavior for a fawn:

  • To look still and unresponsive
  • To be crying
  • To be in your yard
  • To be alone for long periods of time
  • To look skinny and weak

Fawns are safest when alone due to their colors that help them remain camouflaged. You may not see a doe interact with the fawn for some time in order to protect it from predators.

Fawns can not be cared for by wildlife rehabilitators. If you see an injured fawn or one found with a dead mother, you can call MassWildlife at 508-389-6300.

Finding baby bunnies or other young mammals

Young mammals are also seen alone in the forest or yards and only visited by parents a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. It’s best to leave the young alone because their color patterns and lack of scent protect them from being detected by other animals.

MassWildlife also recommends keeping your pets leashed if you know there are baby animals in the area.

If there are clear signs that an animal is in need of help, you can contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. A reminder that it is illegal to take an animal from the wild to care for it or keep it as a pet.

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