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Administration Home News/Information Contact Us DNR Home   

Joe Manchin III, Governor

Frank Jezioro, Director


News Release : May 11, 2005


Hoy Murphy , Public Information Officer (304) 558-3380

Contact: Paul Johansen, Wildlife Resources Section (304) 558-2771


Leave Young Wildlife Alone


  The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources advises people to leave young wildlife alone. With the onset of spring and summer, West Virginia 's diverse wildlife is actively involved in rearing offspring.


  “Every year our agency receives numerous calls from well-meaning individuals who have picked up everything from baby birds to small rabbits and especially fawn deer, believing these animals have been abandoned,” according to Paul Johansen , Assistant Chief in Charge of Game Management. “In most cases, these animals have not been abandoned and should be left alone. The result is that instead of leaving young wildlife where they belong, the animals end up captive, subject to disease, improper feeding and even death. In addition, there are human health risks associated with handling wild animals.”


•  Just because you observe young wildlife in the same place for several hours or even all day does not mean they have been abandoned by the parent. Adult wildlife have an enormous investment in raising their young, and except in extreme circumstances, will always return to them. For example, young songbirds often outgrow the size of their nest before they can fly. Once they exit the nest, young birds will continue to call for food from the ground or the branch of a tree or shrub. Remember, the parent knows where to locate its young. Forget the popular myth that human scent will prevent a parent from taking back its young. Return these animals, as soon as possible, to the place where they were picked up or better yet leave them where they are----their chances of survival may depend on it.


•  If you feel an animal is in imminent danger such as from dogs, cats or vehicles, move it a short distance, if necessary, and leave it alone. Always use gloves when handling wild animals and if you are scratched or bitten, seek professional medical attention immediately. If the animal is still there after 24 hours, call your local DNR Office.


•  One fact that needs to be stressed is that although young wildlife look cute because of size and appearance, they should always be treated as wild animals. Attempts to rescue and care for wildlife are most always counter-productive. Many animals require specialized diets, care and handling, which is usually not possible for the average person to provide.

•  Of even greater concern is the possibility of transmittable diseases and parasites. Rabies, for example, can never be ruled out for mammals anywhere in the state. Raccoon roundworm has been found in over 90 percent of young raccoons. Larval stages of this parasite are infections for a wide variety of mammals and birds. The parasite is easily transmitted to humans where it can cause blindness, paralysis and even death. Similar examples are numerous and the consequences grim.


•  As a final incentive, please remember that state law and regulations prohibit possession of wild animals without a permit. Fines for illegal possession of a fawn deer, black bear cub, baby raccoon, squirrel or any other species of wildlife taken or possessed during the closed season, range from $20 up to a maximum of $1,000 and/or up to 100 days in jail. DNR wants you to enjoy the natural wonder of our bountiful wildlife, but do not forget captive wildlife stories never have happy endings.


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