“The truth is, the animal doesn’t need help – even if a fawn appears to be abandoned, its mother is almost always nearby,” said DNR wildlife biologist Sherry MacKinnon. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but the animals are better off left alone than removed from the wild.”
MacKinnon said it’s not uncommon for does to leave their young unattended for up to eight hours at a time, an anti-predator mechanism that minimizes scent left around the newborn animals. “The same holds true for rabbits, ground-dwelling birds and other wildlife,” she said. “Even avian parents will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from a nest.”
The DNR advises that:
- Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.
- Some “rescued” animals that do survive become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild. It is illegal to possess a wild deer in Michigan, and every day a deer spends with humans makes it that much less likely to be able to survive in the wild.
- Eventually, habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they mature, and raccoons are well-known for this, too.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.