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April 19, 2017
By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture Fast facts:
(Newsrooms: with art at www.flickr.com/photos/uacescomm/33741116100 )
LITTLE ROCK – Spring is a time of fledgling birds, nesting cottontails and a rise
in human-wildlife interactions as people hit the hiking trails, run the bush hog or
are puttering around in the backyard.
“With the onset of spring, many people are tempted to help what seems to be abandoned
or orphaned wildlife,” said Becky McPeake, extension wildlife specialist for the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “In many cases, young animals have not
been abandoned. For some, it is a normal part of their life stage.”
For example, “young birds learning to fly may appear abandoned, though a parent is
usually close by,” she said. “For others, it might be a natural strategy to reduce
predation. A female cottontail may only visit her nest a few times a day. A fawn uses
its spotted camouflage to avoid predators until its mother returns.”
If you see an animal on its own and “it runs away from you or tries to defend itself,
it does not need help,” McPeake said.
Occasionally you’ll see an animal exhibiting unusual behaviors. It could be a normally
nocturnal creature such as a raccoon wandering around during the day, or typically
shy wild animals acting aggressively in the presence of humans or pets.
These could be signs the animal has distemper or rabies, or may be forced into an
unusual behavior pattern by circumstances such as drought, injury or being orphaned.
In those cases, it’s probably best to leave the animal alone.
Spring is full of stories about people who clean brush from their yards or till up
the soil for gardens, only make a sad discovery about what was once a nest.
“If an animal’s nest is disturbed, like from cutting a tree or bush, fashion a new
nest and leave it where the parent can find it,” McPeake said.
However, if the situation is more severe, but there are survivors, McPeake recommends
finding a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“These rehabilitators have the special set of skills needed to care for orphaned,
sick, or injured wildlife until they can be released safely into the wild,” she said.
For most people, “caring for wildlife is not advisable,” McPeake said. “It requires
an exhaustive amount of attention and commitment. For example, most very young mammals
must be fed specialized formula every two hours around the clock.”
Plus, it’s illegal to keep some wildlife species as pets without a permit. This includes
deer fawns, songbirds, owls, ornate box turtles and endangered species.
To learn more, visit https://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/wildlife/dealing-with-wildlife/, or contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for a list of licensed wildlife
rehabilitators, or visit the commission’s website at www.agfc.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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