As the temperatures start to warm, more people will begin to explore the great outdoors. The Northwoods Wildlife Center staff reminds all to enjoy the the newest wildlife generation at a safe distance. Those who come into contact with wildlife should be conscientious and aware of the species in the area this spring.
Not all animals found alone need assistance. Some people may be concerned because some baby animals may seem to be alone for a long time, but in most cases, this is perfectly natural as the parent will only return to feed them. Parent animals may not return to their babies until intruders are out of the area. White-tailed deer and Eastern cottontails are a few of the many species that leave their young for certain reasons. A mother deer will naturally leave her fawn to forage or help protect it from predators. She may leave her fawn for up to eight hours at a time.
Many Eastern cottontail bunnies are often mistaken for orphans due to being alone or because of their small size. Eastern cottontails will normally leave the nest for multiple reasons such as finding a new area to hide their young, foraging or distracting nearby predators. At about four weeks old, bunnies are weaned from the mother and may independently leave the nest.
There are offspring that do occasionally fall out of their nest or leave their den too early. Often, baby squirrels and birds fall out of their nests by accident. If this occurs, place the baby in a small container, such as strawberry container or margarine tub with drain holes, lined with grasses and small twigs and place the container near the nest or den and hook or wire it in place. Even though the other offspring are in another nest or den nearby, the parents will normally take care of their baby, or as in the case with many squirrels, move them to a better location.
Wild animals need to stay in the wild as much as possible for their own well-being. There are situations that do call for some intervention. When encountering a baby animal that is near a dangerous place such as a road, or one that is obviously injured, the animal likely needs rescuing.
If someone happens to come across a sick, injured or orphaned animal that is obviously having problems, please consider helping that individual. Keep a reasonable distance from the animal. Many wild species may feel threatened with a human presence. Anyone who comes across an animal in need should notify the Northwoods Wildlife Center at (715) 356-7400 for further instructions. The NWC staff is available to help wildlife in need 24 hours a day.