Regional News: People are advised not to rush to newborn wildlife’s rescue
May 16, 2017
Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind citizens that newborn wildlife may be found in backyards, along trails or in open spaces, and the best course of action is to leave them alone.
Each year, CPW receives scores of calls from people concerned about wildlife that they believe have been abandoned by adults. Many are tempted to “help” a young animal by picking it up or trying to feed it. However, it is critical that people understand there is no substitute for the animal’s natural parents, and handling them can ruin that critical relationship.
“Baby mammals are scentless in order to prevent predators from finding them,” Janet George, a terrestrial biologist for CPW, said through a news release. “When humans touch these animals, they are imparting them with a scent their adults will not recognize or even fear. This can result in true abandonment of healthy offspring.”
Birds are a different story in some regards because they do not have a highly developed sense of smell. In turn, they may be picked up and moved out of harm’s way or placed back in the nest if they are songbirds. Do not try this with raptors. Great-horned owls and other raptors are territorial and have been known to fly at humans seen as a threat to their young.
CPW says that if it’s observed that young mammals have been left alone for 24 hours without the parent returning, or if the animal appears sick or weak, it is possible the newborn was abandoned. At that point, citizens are encouraged to give the nearest Parks and Wildlife organization a call, and the organization will work with its volunteer transport teams to get animals to a wildlife rehabilitation center for aid. For Summit County, the nearest regional office is in Hot Sulphur Springs, at 970-725-6200. Do not move the animal yourself.