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Resist Urge to Rescue "Orphaned Wildlife"

In the spring, as wildlife begins to stir and young are born, it is inevitable that humans and wildlife will cross paths. Often, people will find young animals that appear to be abandoned or orphaned. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) would like to encourage people to leave these animals alone for the sake of the animal and themselves.

Most of the time young animals that appear to be helpless and alone only are separated from their parents temporarily, says WRD Assistant Chief of Game Management Carroll Allen. Adult animals frequently check on their young, but do spend a significant amount of time away from their offspring to keep predator attention away.

If someone knows with certainty that a young animal has been orphaned or if an animal is severely injured, they should contact a local WRD office. A WRD Wildlife Biologist can assist in placing the animal in the hands of a certified wildlife rehabilitator where it will receive proper care until it can be released back into the wild. People who are not trained in wildlife rehabilitation should not attempt to take care of any wildlife and Georgia law prohibits anyone from keeping most wildlife in captivity without a permit.

If an animal such as a bat, fox, skunk, raccoon, coyote or bobcat is found moving about in the daytime and appears to show no fear of people or dogs, or the animal seems to behave in a sick or abnormal way (weaving, drooling, approaching people, etc.) people should avoid the animal and report it to a local county health office or a WRD office for additional guidance. This animal may be afflicted with distemper, rabies or some other disease. Do not attempt to feed or handle the sick animal. Keep pets, livestock and other humans away from the area where the animal was seen. Two of the most important things that people can do to protect themselves from rabies is to get their pets vaccinated and to avoid contact with wildlife. Children especially should be instructed never to bring wildlife home.

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