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Do not disturb: a reminder regarding young wildlife     Send a link to a friend

[MAY 8, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Spring means warmer weather, trees and flowers in bloom, and an abundance of nesting birds and young wildlife. Illinois Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists remind those who enjoy spending time outdoors and encounter young wildlife to not disturb them.

"Whether you're walking or hiking in the woods, riding a bike or enjoying the outdoors in your own back yard, if you encounter young animals, unattended wildlife or nesting birds, the best advice is to keep your distance and leave them alone," said Joel Brunsvold, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "Finding baby raccoons, rabbits, fawn deer or other wildlife this time of year is commonplace. Even if it appears their mother has abandoned them, we advise you not to disturb these wild babies."

Wildlife biologists say the young wildlife may appear to have been abandoned, but the mother is likely foraging for food or may have moved away from her den or nest to try to keep predators away. Biologists also advise staying away from nesting waterfowl, even if the ducks and geese appear to be in harm's way.

"We hear frequently from homeowners and business people who find a duck or goose nesting in a backyard planter or in a parking lot median," Brunsvold said. "Nesting birds can take care of themselves and their young."


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Nature also provides further protection for young animals with camouflaging color and by giving them little scent to attract predators.

Another reason to leave young wildlife alone is that it is illegal to possess wildlife without the proper permit. Under Illinois law, illegal possession of wildlife is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.

"Wildlife are just that -- wild animals, not pets," Brunsvold said. "Removing young wildlife from the wild and their natural surroundings also presents a possible danger because the animals may transmit diseases such as roundworm or rabies or may carry parasites like fleas, ticks and lice."

Should you find injured wildlife posing a threat to public safety, contact local animal control personnel or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. For wildlife rehabilitator information, contact the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271; phone (217) 782-6431.

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources
news release]

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