Baby wildlife do's and don'ts
Spring is here and soon you will see baby animals in your neighborhood. As Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s wildlife staff prepares for their busiest season of the year, here are some of their do’s and don’ts for helping baby wildlife.
DO: Allow baby wildlife to grow up in their natural environment
Baby animals are vulnerable, yet resilient. Pets, 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.
DON’T: Assume baby wildlife is abandoned
Baby wildlife is rarely abandoned in nature and mothers often leave their young unattended for hours. 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.
Certain baby animals are not supposed to be left alone, including ducklings and goslings. If you are unsure if an animal needs help, always call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-471-8357 before intervening.
DO: Monitor your yard for nests
Monitor your lawn before cutting the grass, as Eastern Cottontail Rabbits often build their nesting sites in yards and open spaces. If you find a nest, do not move the bunnies or their mother will be unable to find them. She will return at dusk and dawn to feed and groom her babies.
Check for bird nests before trimming branches and other landscaping. If you find a baby bird with skin still visible, place it back in its 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.
DON’T: Feed or provide care for baby wildlife
Baby wildlife will never receive the same quality of care from humans as they would receive from their natural parents. Each species requires a specialized diet and feeding an animal the wrong food can be harmful to its health. Human care can cause serious damage to the animal and should be seen as a last resort.
DO: Call a wildlife rehabber if you find an injured animal
If you find an injured animal or have questions about wildlife, call Lake Erie Nature & Science Center at 440-471-8357 before intervening. The Center provides free wildlife rehabilitation services to the public 7 days a week between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
DON’T: Give baby animals as Easter gifts
Easter is approaching, and so is the important reminder that rabbits, chicks and ducklings are not low-maintenance pets. These animals can live for many years and require proper care and attention, like any dog or cat. Many people are persuaded by pet stores and breeders to purchase baby animals as Easter gifts, then abandon them once the holiday fun is over. Always do your research before purchasing a pet and know that you are providing them with a forever home.
Morgan Paskert is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.