CDFW Reminds Residents to Leave Young Wildlife Alone

Fish and Wildlife

Spring is in full swing, which means young wildlife are emerging from their dens and into the world. Improper handling of young wildlife is a nationwide problem at this time of year, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds residents not to disturb any young wild animals they may come across. 

“Each species cares for and trains its young in unique ways,” Nicole Carion, CDFW’s statewide coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation, said in a release. “Some animals, such as deer, will leave their young for hours at a time while they forage for food. A small fawn stashed in the bushes by its mother may look vulnerable and defenseless, but it is likely healthy and well cared for and should not be disturbed.”

Leaving young wildlife alone also involves keeping pets on a leash, as young animals may abandon their nests and lose their way if startled by a roaming dog. 

The CDFW emphasized that the best course of action is to call a wildlife rehabilitator if a wild animal appears in distress. Wild animals can cause serious injury with claws, hooves and teeth, and may carry ticks, fleas and lice, so it is best to leave intervention responsibilities to permitted personnel. 

“Rehabilitators are trained to provide care for wild animals so they retain their natural fear of humans and do not become habituated or imprinted,” Carion added. 

In California, it is illegal to feed wild animals, to keep orphaned or injured wildlife for over 48 hours or to keep native wildlife as pets.