Don’t Catch Small Wild Animals: Leave Wildlife Wild

May 19, 2022

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Salem, Rekaz. – Young wild animals are rarely orphaned, so leave them where you find them. The advice you’ll likely hear if you bring a small wild animal home is to “bring it back,” and you may receive a warning or quote from the Oregon State Police as well.

Because of the harm it can do to both wildlife and humans, removing an animal from the wild is illegal under Oregon’s wildlife laws. (ORS 497.308 – No person shall remove from their natural habitat or acquire and retain any live wildlife in violation of wildlife laws.)

Unfortunately, just about every year around this time, offices of the ODFW, licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialists, and even the Oregon State Police are inundated with calls from people who have picked up a deer, a calf, a baby bird learning to fly, or another small animal they presume to be orphaned. Because she was alone. When removed from the wild, the animal loses the opportunity to know where to look for cover, what to eat, and how to escape from predators and other dangers.

Here’s how to help instead:

  • Keep pets and other pets away to help the wildlife at this time of year. Pets will put pressure on the wildlife, especially if there are young wild animals or fledgling birds in your garden. Keep dogs on a leash when re-establishing them outside.
  • If you are certain that an animal is an orphan because you have seen its parent die, or you have seen an animal that has been injured, please contact ODFW, Licensed Wildlife RehabilitationAnd the or OSP for advice.

deer and elk
Oregon elk and elk give birth from May through July. It is normal for mother animals to leave their young on their own and hide for long periods of time while they are out for feeding, so never assume that a young animal is an orphan when you see it alone. Mom will return when it is safe to do so – when no people, pets or predators are around. Deer and elk see dogs as a threat to their young, so they may act aggressively in response to a dog’s disturbance.

marine mammals
The advice to leave animals in the wild applies to all wildlife – including adult and young marine mammals that are usually seen alone on rocks or on the beach in the spring and summer. Beachgoers should stay away from seals and sea lions, and keep dogs away from these animals as well. Marine mammal chains should be reported to the OSP hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

Some baby birds, called chicks, may separate from their parents when they learn to fly. These are sometimes mistaken as abandoned birds. Unless they are visibly injured, chicks should be left where they are or carefully lifted into a nest or on a branch to avoid predators, so they have the best chance of survival.

Ducks and sheep are often separated from their mothers due to disturbance from humans or predators. If you notice small waterfowl without a mother, please leave them alone and leave the area until the mother can return.

with the Recent findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) In Oregon, it is more important than ever to avoid close contact with waterfowl (ducks and geese) in spring and summer. Do not feed ducks and geese. Feeding combines with susceptible birds and enables disease to spread more easily among birds. Also note that Oregon wildlife rehabilitation professionals do not currently accept sick ducks and geese to protect other avian patients and education birds in their care.

For more information on visiting young wildlife


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