'Abandoned' wildlife may be safer than you think, rehab centre says

Zoe Nakata of Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre told Global Winnipeg well-meaning humans are often misinterpreting the situation.

It’s not unusual at this time of year to see wildlife — especially young animals — exploring areas adjacent to homes, yards, fields and ditches, but the executive director of a Manitoba wildlife rehab centre says the best thing you can do is leave the creatures be.

Zoe Nakata of the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre told Global Winnipeg she hears frequent concerns about baby animals, particularly deer, being left alone by their mothers, but well-meaning humans are often misinterpreting the situation.

“It’s a real misconception out there. It’s super common for moms to leave the fawn — they’ll tuck them away in a little corner … somewhere they think is safe.

“They’ll leave to go get food, get replenished, and then they’ll come back for them.”

Those excursions can often take hours, leading people to incorrectly assume the fawn has been abandoned — but trying to help can often have the opposite effect.

“The mom is sometimes not even very far from them and sometimes observing, even,” she said.

“You might be just a few feet away and watching, and the mother might just be 10 to 15 feet behind, waiting for you to leave. You might be delaying that reunion of the mom and the fawn, you might be disturbing the nest, you might be causing more harm than good by trying to do the right thing.

“Sometimes the parents are confused by the scents that are left behind. Sometimes you might be disturbing the food source that was left for the baby.”

Overall, with deer and other wildlife, the best course of action is just to keep your distance. If you do encounter an animal who appears to be in distress, Nakata said her organization is open to help out, 24/7, 365 days a year, and can guide you over the phone as to the best course of action for everyone involved.

“If you think you’re seeing an animal in distress, please don’t intervene in a situation before giving us a call.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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