‘If you care, leave them there’: wildlife experts warn about interaction with young wildlife

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In the spring, it is not unusual to see young wildlife that appear to be alone. Before you attempt to help – remember that it is best to leave wildlife where you find them, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“When you take wildlife out of their environment and bring them into your home, it often takes away that animal’s ability to then survive in the wild, where they belong,” explains Kaitlin Goode, program manager of the Georgia WRD Urban Wildlife Program. “In most instances, there is an adult animal a short distance away – even though you may not be able to see it. Adult animals, such as deer, spend most of the day away from their young to reduce the risk of a predator finding the young animal.”

The best thing people can do when they see a young animal is to leave it exactly as they found it for at least 24 hours. If the animal is still there after this time period, reach out to the local WRD office for guidance.

Young wildlife demand a great deal of care and have specific nutritional requirements. If they are not cared for properly, they will not be releasable or retain the ability to survive on their own. Persons not licensed and trained in wildlife rehabilitation should not attempt to care for wildlife. In fact, Georgia law prohibits the possession of most wildlife without a permit.

“Many times, when a small baby animal is brought here and someone has already removed them from the area they found it, it’s hard to put it back exactly where they got it and the animal is definitely orphaned. Once you’ve removed it from that situation, it’s hard to get them back,” explains wildlife biologist, Kara Day.

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