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Montana wildlife officials ask residents to leave baby animals alone

Baby Deer
Posted at 7:34 AM, Jun 18, 2024

(Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks press release)

HELENA - They look so cute and helpless. But your efforts to help could end up harming the animal and reducing its chances to survive.

It’s important to understand that wildlife care for their young much differently than humans. One strategy that some species, particularly those species typically preyed upon by other animals (deer, rabbits, birds), use is to distance themselves from their young for many hours at a time. This helps to keep predators away from their young. For example, fawns are born without a scent, and it is safer for them if their mother, who has a scent, is not nearby. This also can potentially distract a predator into focusing on the doe rather than its offspring.

Wild animals thrive better where they have plenty of natural habitat (food, water, shelter, space). The potential to spread wildlife disease is also a good reason to leave young wildlife alone. Baby ground squirrels, racoons and rabbits can carry zoonotic diseases, which means diseases that are infectious for humans. Examples include plague, hemorrhagic diseases and tularemia.

If you see a baby animal, whether a goose or a grizzly, keep your distance and leave it alone. Handling baby animals can be dangerous, and usually once young animals are picked up by people they can’t be rehabilitated.

FWP does not accept, hold or rehabilitate moose, deer, elk and most other animals, including waterfowl. If you bring a deer or elk to FWP, you'll be asked to take the animal back to the site where it was found. If the animal can't be returned, it may need to be humanely euthanized.