Wildlife “Rescues” Often Do More Harm Than Good

April 4, 2014

Wildlife officials discourage handling young animals

FINDALY – The spring season has arrived and so too has the season for Ohio residents to enjoy spotting young and sometimes seemingly abandoned wildlife. Each year, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife officials offer simple advice. Please leave wildlife alone and enjoy wildlife from a distance.

A wild animal is capable of biting, scratching and transmitting diseases and parasites to humans and pets. More often than not, baby animals are not abandoned and the parents will retrieve their young, especially when left alone by humans.

“When a wildlife biologist or a wildlife officer receives a call regarding a seemingly abandoned fawn for example, the first thing we suggest is to take the animal back to where it was found,” stated Scott Peters, wildlife management supervisor for northeast Ohio. “Many wild animals are raised by only one adult or are not tended to during the daylight hours. A doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent and when left alone is difficult for predators to find. The doe tends to the fawn several times each night,” continued Peters.

State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife and endangered species in Ohio. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators, working under special permits issued by the Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife offers the following advice:

Think before you act. Check for nests before cutting down trees or clearing brush. It is best to cut trees and clear brush in the autumn when nesting season is over. Observe the animal from a distance for at least a few hours before calling officials for advice. You might witness adults tending to or retrieving the young.

Leave the animal in the wild. If you disturb a nest, wear gloves and replace the young animals and the nest material to the original location or as close as possible. It’s a myth that wildlife parents will not tend to young because of human scent. Wildlife parents are devoted and most birds cannot even smell.

Keep pets under control so they do not raid nests and injure wild animals. Keep pets inoculated against parasites and diseases.

Educate children to respect wildlife and their habitat. Emphasize to your children not to handle wild animals.

Contact your local wildlife official before taking action. Trust and follow the advice of these trained professionals. Call 1-800-WILDLIFE or visit to be connected with the proper individuals.