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Joe Manchin III, Governor

Frank Jezioro, Director


News Release : May 3, 2007


Hoy Murphy , Public Information Officer (304) 558-3381
Paul Johansen , Wildlife Resources Section (304) 558-2771

Leave Young Wildlife Alone

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds people to “leave young wildlife alone.” It’s that time of year again, when the woods and fields of West Virginia abound with new life. If you are involved in outdoor recreation activities, do your part to ensure the survival of young wildlife by remembering the motto --“look, but do not touch or disturb”.

Picking up baby wildlife or getting too close and disturbing the family unit greatly increases the chance that the offspring(s) may become part of Mother Nature’s food chain. If you come across young wildlife in your outdoor travels, do not touch or disturb them. If you want to watch, do so from a safe distance with the aid of binoculars.

If you find young wildlife that are alone and think they may have been abandoned, please remember that the mother is probably out gathering food. It takes a lot of energy to raise offspring, so the mother must leave to get enough food for her and the babies. This could take a few hours or all day, but the mother knows where her young are and she will always come back. Humans are poor substitute parents for wild animals. Young wildlife have special diets and they need to learn survival skills from their mothers, things people cannot duplicate. By observing wildlife at a safe distance with binoculars, you can learn how wild animals care for their young in a natural environment without compromising the animals’ safety.

The DNR receives more calls about abandoned fawns than any other wildlife. Unfortunately, many people often mistake a bedded fawn, with no mother in sight, as abandoned. Remember, not moving is an important defense tactic of fawns. Their spot pattern, coloration and lack of scent make the fawn difficult for predators to detect. If a predator comes by, the fawn will freeze until the threat has passed, or it will wait until the very last moment to flee to safety if spotted. Fawns should always be left undisturbed. If you are certain that the fawn’s mother is unable to care for it or has been killed, call your local DNR office, conservation officer, or wildlife manager.

Another reason for not picking up wildlife is that diseases, parasites, and other health related risks are greatly increased with captive wild animals. Parasite transmission between pets and wild animals could result in the death of one or both animals. Rabies, roundworms and other parasites such as lice and ticks are transmitted to both pets and humans. Roundworms can cause blindness, paralysis, and even death in humans.

As a final incentive, please remember that state laws 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 taken or possessed during the closed season, range from $20.00 up to a maximum of $1,000.00 and/or up to 100 days in jail.

The Division of Natural Resources wants you to enjoy nature’s bounty of beautiful and exciting wildlife in West Virginia . However, for your own health and safety and for the animals’ welfare please remember that young wild animals should stay wild.


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2003 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources