SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – This spring, you might see some cute, newborn animals outside. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) tells OzarksFirst no matter how innocent or abandoned an animal may look, don’t take one into your home.
OzarksFirst spoke with the MDC about what folks should keep in mind. Media specialist Francis Skalicky says even though it may be tempting to make friends with a wild animal, you should always leave wild animals alone.
“With a lot of instances people will find things they think are abandoned like bunnies or fawns or things like that,” Skalicky said. “They’re actually left there by their mothers when they’re out foraging. [These animals are] not abandoned at all. If you would take that animal into your care you would actually kidnap it. You wouldn’t be saving it.”
Skalicky says wild animals are meant to be wild. He tells OzarksFirst a lot of young animals hide during the day while their parents are out searching for food. Rabbits are a good example. The bunnies stay in a nest, and the mother rabbit leaves before sunrise and returns at dusk. It’s how they keep predator animals from finding out where their nest is.
Another important thing to remember? He says if you have to chase an animal to rescue it, it probably doesn’t need to be rescued.
“Wildlife young gets what’s called precocial. It’s active at a young age. They are good at avoiding predators too. The more mobile they are, the less of concern you have to care for them.”
Despite these tips, there have been viral videos of people successfully taking care of a wild animal. But, Skalicky tells OzarksFirst there are a lot of untold stories that didn’t have a happy ending.
“All you did was take a young animal from a situation where it was perfectly fine, and added stress and death to its life because you weren’t able to take care of it. There’s nothing wrong with having compassion but it’s also great that you have understanding of what nature system is. Nature system is wild animals are cared for by wild animals.”
During the spring, you might see a bird bumped out of their nest and on the ground. Skalicky says that’s the only time it would be okay to do something.
“If you have a cat that’s roaming your neighborhood, there’s nothing wrong with taking that bird and putting it in an area where it’s away from the cat. Maybe in a more protected area as long as the mother can get to it.”
Skalicky says someone may be among the very few people who raises a wild animal that lives for a while. But once it gets older, it becomes a problem. The animal develops wild tendencies.
“Now you have a wild animal that’s hanging around your house. That’s not a good thing either. It’s not like a dog or a cat that runs up to you and wants you to pet it. It still is a wild animal.”
Wildlife can also carry parasites or disease as they grow up. Overall, he tells OzarksFirst taking a wild animal into your care does more harm than good.
“We have this natural compassion that we want to care for it, but the best way we can care for it is by letting it alone. Nature is very good at caring for its own. We don’t need to jump in and try to improve on a great system that nature already has.”