Watching wildlife is enjoyable, especially when young animals
appear in the spring. But it's best to keep your
distance. Picking up young wildlife can do more harm than
good, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
It's also against the law.
When people see young animals alone, they often mistakenly
assume these animals are helpless or lost, in trouble or needing to
be rescued. Bringing young wildlife into a human environment
often results in permanent separation from their mothers and a sad
ending for the animal.
Handling wildlife could also pose a threat to the people
involved. Wild animals can transmit disease and angry wildlife
mothers can pose significant dangers.
Department scientists encourage wildlife watchers to respect the
behavior of animals in the spring and early summer, and to resist
the urge to assist wildlife in ways that may be harmful. Some
• Deer and moose nurse their young at different
times during the day, and often leave young alone for long periods
of time. These animals are not lost. Their mother knows where
they are and will return.
• Young birds on the ground may have left their
nest, but their parents will still feed them.
• Young animals such as fox and raccoon will
often follow their parents. The family of a "wandering" animal
searching for food is usually nearby but just out of sight to a
person happening upon it.
• Animals that act sick can carry rabies,
parasites or other harmful diseases. Do not handle
them. Even though they do not show symptoms, healthy-looking
raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats also may also be carriers of the
deadly rabies virus.
• Many wildlife species will not feed or care for
their young when people are close by. Obey signs that
restrict access to wildlife nesting areas, including hiking trails
that may be temporarily closed.
• Keep domestic pets indoors, leashed or fenced
in. Dogs and cats kill many baby animals each year.
• Avoid projects that remove trees, shrubs and
dead snags that contain bird and other nests during the spring and
For information about rabies and nuisance wildlife, call the
Vermont Rabies Hotline at 1-800-4RABIES (1-800-472-2437). If
bitten or in direct contact with a raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, or
a domestic animal that has been in contact with one of these
species, call the Vermont Department of Health at
For the safety of all wildlife taking a wild animal into
captivity is illegal. If you find an orphaned animal, however, you
can contact the nearest rehabilitator specializing in the species
you've found. Look under "Wildlife Programs" on Vermont Fish
& Wildlife's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) to learn about
Vermont's wildlife rehabilitators.
Contact the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department at
1-802-241-3700 if you any questions.
Photo by Robert Tanner courtesy of