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Keep Wildlife Wild

What should I do if I find a baby animal?

Each spring and summer, we are flooded with calls as people across the state run into a common dilemma – they have come across a baby animal and desperately want to help. The best thing you can do to help, however, is to leave the animal alone. Many animals will hide their young for safety, and they will return. The majority of the time these wild animals do not need our help and it is best for wildlife to remain in the wild.

Please see below for more information about specific animals you may find in the wild:

  • Leave it be!

    • Many different animals may hide their young for safety. These babies are not abandoned, they simply have been hidden by their mother until she returns.
    • It is best for wildlife to remain in the wild where the animal will have the best chance for survival. Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment.
    • Some rescued animals that do survive may become used to people and unable to return back to life in the wild.
    • Animals may not appear or act sick, but may carry diseases or parasites that can be passed on to people or pets.
    • Wild animals can act unpredictably and can become aggressive, especially as they get older.

    Unless you are licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal in Michigan.

    Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator

    If you believe the parent is dead or the animal is injured, you can contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before removing an animal from the wild. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife.

    Find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator >

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    • White-tailed deer fawns are typically born in May and June.
    • It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended for up to eight hours at a time!
    • While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way.
    • For the first few weeks of a white-tailed deer fawn’s life, its mother will hide it in secluded locations. This behavior helps reduce the potential of predators finding the fawn.
    • A fawn’s spots are excellent camouflage and it has very little scent, which will help it stay hidden from predators.
    • The best chance for their survival is to leave them in the wild.
    • If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it, as this might leave your scent and could attract predators. Give it plenty of space and leave the area quickly.
    • The mother deer will return for her fawns when she feels it is safe, but she may not return if people or dogs are present.

    Learn more about deer >

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    • Cottontail rabbits may have multiple litters per year.
    • A mother rabbit will rarely abandon her babies. She will leave the nest unattended at times so as not to attract the attention of predators.
    • Leave the nest alone, and the mother will return when she feels it is safe.

    Learn more about rabbits >

     

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    • Raccoons usually have their young in April and May.
    • Although baby raccoons seem cute, they are well known for becoming aggressive as they get older, making them dangerous to you and your family.
    • For your safety, obey the law – do not take wild animals from the wild.
    • A raccoon may not appear or act sick, but may carry diseases or parasites that can be passed on to people or pets.

    Learn more about raccoons >

     

    • Feathered baby birds may fall from the nest while learning to fly, but their parents will continue to feed and care for them even when they are on the ground.
    • Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find it.
    • It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents and to learn all it needs to know to survive.
    • Keep dogs, cats and kids away from the nest or baby birds.
    • Birds, their nests and eggs are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and must be left alone.

    Learn more about birds >

  • Duck nesting in your yard?

    • While it may not seem like an ideal location, urban and suburban yards are actually safe places for mother mallards to nest.
    • If you have a mallard nesting in your shrubs or gardens, simply leave her in peace and enjoy watching your wild neighbor.
    • Keep dogs, cats and kids away from the nest, as birds, their nests and eggs are protected by federal law and must be left alone.
    • She'll be a very quiet neighbor, and if the nest fails on its own – something that happens regularly – just wish her luck on her next attempt.
    • She will likely sit on her nest for about a month before the eggs hatch and will usually leave the nest with newly hatched ducklings the same day that they hatch!
    • Don't worry, even if water isn't close by, she knows where it is and will get her brood there safely.

    A goose nest nearby?

    • Canada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water.
    • Similar to mallards, Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch.
    • Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder.
    • If possible, try to avoid the area. If this is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away by opening and closing the umbrella.

    Ducks, geese, their nests and eggs are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and must be left alone.

    Learn more about waterfowl >