The Washington Times - May 7, 2009, 08:26AM

Every state wildlife office in the middle Atlantic states currently is busy asking people to leave wildlife alone.

It’s spring and seeing a newly-born or young fawn, squirrel, raccoon or songbird is not unusual. Whatever your feelings are, please leave them be. Don’t try to help.

SEE RELATED:


“Being outdoors in the spring is an enjoyable way to spend time and learn more about nature,” says Calvin W. DuBrock, the Bureau of Wildlife Management director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, but DuBrock cautions about finding a wild animal that appears to be abandoned. “Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal is not an orphan or abandoned and the best thing you can do is to leave it alone,” he says.

DuBrock points out that adult animals often leave their young to forage for food. In addition, wildlife relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy.” Young animals that already are protected with camouflaging colors will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of predators or other intruders away from their young.

DuBrock is being joined by wildlife officials in Maryland and Virginia when he says, “Wild animals are not meant to be pets, and we must all resist our well-meaning and well-intentioned urge to want to care for wildlife.

Taking wildlife from its natural settings and into your home may expose or transmit wildlife diseases to people or domestic animals.” You should know that wildlife babies can carry parasites such as fleas, ticks or lice. Would you want to bring them into your home or have them crawling on your clothes and body? Never mind the possibility of contracting Lyme disease or even rabies if bitten by an affected animal.

The various game commissions are fully aware of something I call the “Walt Disney syndrome.” It’s about people who somehow, in a totally ridiculous way, put a human face on wild animals. For example, deer hunters find themselves being accused of shooting Bambi, Disney’s movie subject. And of course Bambi can talk and it has a mommy that might wear an apron and who cautions her little offspring in human terms. But that’s not real life. It’s Hollywood. Animals don’t talk like we do and they behave much differently than humans. So leave the wildlife be; don’t touch it; don’t think that it needs your help.

My Uncle Hugo Mueller can verify all that. When I was a youngster he found what he believed to be an abandoned deer fawn hiding in tall grass. He carried it back to his farm and raised it with a bunch of his goats until the little fawn grew into a fine, antlered buck. Oh, yes, the buck attacked Uncle Hugo one day during the rutting season, sending him to the hospital. He suffered lacerations and puncture wounds. When he returned from the hospital, he went into the enclosure that the buck lived in and converted it into venison -– if you know what I mean.

It was a sad conclusion to a story that could have ended much better had he left the little deer alone. His mother was probably close-by all along and most likely suffered much anxiety when she saw her fawn being carried away.

Finally, be advised that you can risk a stiff fine if you take it upon yourself to possess any wildlife species without being properly licensed and trained to care for it.