Does baby wildlife need our help?
Spring is here and wildlife reproduction will soon be at its peak. As Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s wildlife staff prepares for their busiest season of the year, Director of Wildlife Amy LeMonds answers the most common questions her staff receives about baby wildlife.
Q: I noticed a fawn alone in the grass. Is it abandoned?
A: Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature. Mothers will often leave their young unattended for several reasons. For instance, a fawn lying quietly by itself with no mother in sight is perfectly normal. Deer do this to protect their young, as the presence of an adult would attract the attention of predators.
Q: A nest of baby bunnies is in the middle of my yard. Should I move them?
A: Eastern cottontail rabbits often build their nesting sites in yards and open spaces. If you stumble across one of their nests, do not move the baby bunnies because their mother will be unable to find them. She will return at dusk and dawn to feed and groom her babies.
Baby wildlife does not need to be protected from natural dangers. Children, predators and automobiles are all a natural part of their urban and suburban environments. Baby wildlife must grow up among these circumstances in order to learn how to successfully co-exist with them. Growing up in the wild is dangerous, but removing animals from their parents can be equally as detrimental to their survival.
Q: A baby squirrel fell from a tree. Should I feed it?
A: Please do not feed baby animals. Each species requires a specialized diet and feeding an animal the wrong food can be harmful to its health. Squirrels often maintain more than one nest site and will retrieve their babies when they end up out of the nest too early.
Q: I see a baby bird that can’t fly. Should I help it?
A: A baby bird with skin still visible or only covered in downy feathers should be placed back in the nest or in an artificial nest. If fully feathered but unable to fly, the bird is a fledging that should be left alone to learn critical survival behaviors.
Baby wildlife will never receive the same quality of care from humans as they would receive from their natural parents. Human care, to some extent, is always damaging to the animal. For this reason, human intervention should be the last resort.
If you have questions about wildlife, contact the expert wildlife staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-471-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Center’s team is always happy to answer questions and provide resources to the community.
Save the Date: The Center will host its third annual Birds of Lake Erie Day on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy a variety of programs and activities for all ages including birding hikes through Huntington Reservation, live animal presentations, an update on Cleveland’s Lights Out initiative and planetarium shows about the night sky. The fee is $8 per person.
Morgan Paskert is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.