Arkansas Game and Fish
Many species of wildlife have their young in spring, and many well-meaning Arkansans regularly call the state Game and Fish Commission to report young wildlife that looks abandoned.
Moving these animals can cause more harm than good.
Most wildlife parents cannot be with their young nonstop. They must find food for their offspring or gain much-needed nutrition to continue nursing. It’s not uncommon for a doe or rabbit to leave her young alone nearly all day while they rest up and recuperate from the stress of nursing. Mother and father birds also take many trips scouring the nearby area for food to bring back to the hatchlings.
It may come as a shock to see these young animals in such a helpless position, but this is how these species have learned to survive. The more trips a mother makes to her young in the wild, the more scent trails she leaves behind for predators to follow.
Often, a doe deer is within hearing distance of her young, even though she may not be seen. The best defenses fawns and rabbit kits have are to stay motionless so they blend into their surroundings and stay quiet so they don’t attract unwanted attention.
Baby birds almost ready to fly hop around in the tree branches exercising their wings. They often end up on the ground a few times before finally getting the hang of things. Parent birds will continue to feed them on the ground until they fly off on their own.
Moving “orphaned” wildlife works against this plan. Instead of rescuing them, well-meaning people often mistakenly take them from their mothers and have little to no experience or idea on how to help that young animal. Wildlife rehabilitation experts often are overwhelmed by young owls and other birds that were mistakenly “rescued” by well-meaning people.
If someone does find a young animal and has taken it from the area, the best practice is to place it back where it was as soon as possible. Forget the wive’s tales about the mother rejecting the young because of human scent. When she comes back to the area, she will take care of her young regardless.