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This was NOT written by me. This was written by a wonderful woman named 'Ren, aka "RandomWicktor" on Ultimatebettas.com.

Spring Wildlife Reminders
© "Ren" Weeks

Introduction
It's spring, when trees bud, flowers bloom, and animals have their babies. It's also one of the most stressful times of the year for wildlife rehabilitators, because with it comes the inevitable influx of injured and "orphaned" baby wildlife. It's tragic that many young wild animals will be injured or orphaned every spring, but the real tragedy is that the majority of a rehabilitator's spring wildlife patients were unnecessary casualties of (often well-meaning) human ignorance. Below are a few tips for ways that you can help prevent avoidable wildlife disasters.

Human/Wildlife Conflicts
One primary source of spring wildlife patients are human/wildlife conflicts caused when mother animals look for places to raise their young near human settlement. Some of the most common include:
  • "Home Invasion" - Raccoons, squirrels, bats, and other animals will routinely take up residence in garages, basements, and attics as these areas offer warm, dry shelter in which to raise their young. Most people respond by hiring a trapper, but did you know that wildlife trappers are loosely regulated in most states? This means that their methods may not be humane and may not keep the animal from coming back! If you suspect a wild animal is nesting in a problematic spot, CALL A WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR, not a trapper. Wildlife rehabilitators can give you practical advice to deter, remove, and otherwise deal with wildlife "home invasions" - solutions that are humane, long-lasting, and free of charge.
  • Automobile Collisions - As animals search for mates or move their offspring to food sources, it is a sad but common fact that animal/vehicle collisions will sometimes occur. In spring, the casualty may not be the single animal struck, but her offspring as well. If you strike an animal with your vehicle in the spring, and road conditions are safe enough to allow it, make sure there are no offspring trailing nearby; skunks, raccoons, turkeys, foxes, and other species often travel with their offspring as they get older. If you hit an opossum, check for a pouch - a pocket of skin on the belly - which may contain tiny babies that will not survive without prompt intervention. If you do find baby wildlife near an automobile victim, call a wildlife rehabilitator immediately - do not try to capture and raise them yourself!
  • Nest Disturbances - For animals that nest near human settlement, spring is a treacherous time. Yard projects often take place in the spring, and involve tree and branch cutting, moving rock and wood piles, mowing lawns, etc. Most baby animals instinctively stay still and quiet when their mothers are away to avoid predators, so the nest is seldom discovered until it has been destroyed. It is advisable to carefully check your lawn, trees, detritus piles, etc. before any major projects for the nests of rabbits, squirrels, small mammals, and birds. If you notice a wildlife nest in that vicinity, try to hold off; most wildlife babies leave their nests in a matter of weeks. If you do disturb a nest, call a wildlife rehabilitator; depending on the situation, the young may or may not need intervention.
  • Pets and Wildlife - What invasive species does some of the most harm to wildlife in the US? Believe it or not, domesticated cats! Because of their adaptability, robust health with human care, and efficient predatory skills, even well-fed domesticated cats pose a significant risk to wildlife. The majority of spring wildlife patients - and fatalities - for many wildlife rehabilitators are cat caught baby animals. We strongly advise you keep your cat indoors, build a cat enclosure, or only permit supervised time outdoors. However, if you allow your cat to free roam and it does catch a baby animal, contain it indoors and call a wildlife rehabilitator to deal with the victim. If there is one baby, there are others, and a cat permitted back outside can wipe out an entire brood. By keeping your cat indoors for a few weeks after finding a nest, you allow wildlife babies to grow and disperse; they have enough challenges without facing an unnatural introduced predator! (P.S. - Dog lovers, don't think you'll get off scott-free! Dogs catch and harm wildlife as well. Keep your dog leashed in wildlife areas and check you yard for nests!)
Unnecessary Human Intervention
Sadly, one of the biggest sources of orphaned wildlife is unnecessary human intervention. Many well-meaning souls who find baby wildlife assume that it has been orphaned if they do not see a mother around. In actuality, most wildlife mothers are too busy looking for food to watch the kids all day! Some species only nurse their young a couple of times daily; the rest of the day, they are on their own. Deer, rabbits, and fledgling birds are the three species most frequently made orphans by humans who intervene when it is not necessary.
  • Deer leave their young hunkered in the grass while they graze. Fawns have protective coloring and lie very still until their mother's return. It is not uncommon for the mother to be away for hours on end. Rarely is a fawn found laying along in the woods or field a true orphan; indeed one of the only times you will encounter a truly orphaned fawn is if you find it close to its dead mother (such as in a vehicle collision). Fawns have a very poor survival and release rate when they are orphaned, so please never bring a fawn home. If you are truly concerned, call a wildlife rehabilitator to assess the situation.
  • Rabbits leave their young alone for prolonged periods of time, much like deer. What's more, wild rabbits mature and wean more rapidly than their domesticated counterparts; at only 3-4 weeks, their tiny babies are fully independent! Many of the "orphaned" baby rabbits people attempt to rear are actually weaned and suffer inordinate stress and malnutrition in captivity. Baby rabbits in general have highly sensitive digestive systems and startle easily; they should never be raised by anyone but a wildlife rehabilitator in the event that they are truly orphaned.
  • Fledglings are baby birds who are too young to fly, but have already left their nests. These babies are typically partially feathered, very mobile, and are usually found hopping around on the ground below trees and bushes. People often mistake these birds for babies who have fallen from their nest and are now orphaned, but parent birds continue to care for and protect fledglings after they leave the nest. Taking a fledgling away from its parents at this crucial stage can result in a very poor chance of survival and release. If you feel a fledgling is threatened by its position, call a wildlife rehabilitator for advice but do NOT remove it.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Keep WILDlife Wild
Well-meaning but ill-informed individuals can be a baby wild animal's worst enemy. Every year, wildlife rehabilitators clean up the heart-breaking aftermath of individuals who found baby wildlife - distressed or not - and attempted to "save" them by rearing them at home. What they do not understand is that wild animals have highly specified care needs, upon admission, through growth, and before release. By trying to "DIY" orphaned wildlife care, these individuals severely reduce the chances of survival, health, and eligibility for release. Think you can raise wildlife orphans? Here are some considerations.
  • Handling must be carried out with extreme caution. In addition to the possibility of harming a frail baby animal, many carry parasites and zoonotic diseases that could harm you, your family, or your pets. What's more, the way you interact with a wild animal can significant impact both its chances of survival and its eligibility for release.
  • Admission is not as simple as putting the baby animal in a box and feeding it. Each species has highly specialized needs for acclimation to captivity. True orphans are typically stressed, cold, dehydrated, malnourished, and may even be ill. They might need fluid injections, electrolyte solutions, heating pads, nutritional support, anti-biotics, or triage care - and this care varies for each species and situation.
  • Feeding is more complicated than a bottle of milk or a tweezer of grubs. Most wildlife babies need to be slowly, carefully acclimated to new diets with the use of electrolytes and probiotics to prevent fatal digestive problems. They can be choked or drowned with improper feeding and watering, may need assistance using the bathroom, and require specific quantities of food at specific times of the day.
  • Weaning is also a complicated process. Animals need to be introduced to their natural food items gradually in the appropriate combination and variety. Rabbit pellets or bird seed are not going to cut it; without appropriate weaning and post-weaning nutrition, many species will develop deficiencies, bone deformities, and or may even die.
  • Release is a careful process that occurs over the course of weeks or months and requires extensive knowledge of a species' needs so that they can be "rewilded" before returned to their habitat. If you simply let your wildlife orphan go one day without a proper pre-release procedure, it is highly likely to perish in the wild.
  • "But I'll just keep my baby!" Guess again. Keeping native wildlife without the appropriate licenses and permits is ILLEGAL and comes with penalties ranging from heavy fines to jail time per animal. Even worse, if you are found to have a wild animal in your possession illegally, it will almost definitely be confiscated and killed.
Conclusion
There is a good reason you need a license and training to become a wildlife rehabilitator; even something as simple and benign as raising an orphaned baby bunny is a complicated, expensive, delicate process that, if done incorrectly, can have disastrous effects for the animal. If you find yourself in conflict with wildlife this spring, or discover what you think may be an orphan, there's only one thing you need to remember: before you take ANY action, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. They can offer the advice, expertise, and care necessary to ensure that your good intentions are carried out in the most advantageous and successful way possible for the animal in need.

Helpful Resources:
Finding a Rehabilitator
National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation
HSUS Wild Neighbors

If you need to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area and were unsuccessful using the above resources, contact your state's Department of Environmental Conservation, Department Fish and Game, or other state wildlife, environmental, or natural resources agencies which should be found readily in local directories.

Kat's note~~Wow, can't believe it was so long, lol. I knew she had written a lot, but I didn't realize it would surpass the post-limit. XD
 
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