Leave young wildlife alone
Message for people enjoying the woods this weekend: Young wildlife are rarely orphaned, so leave them where you find them—and keep your pets away too
Memorial Day weekends marks the start of summer—and it’s also birthing season for Oregon’s elk and deer herds. Elk calves and deer fawns are born from late May through mid-June.
Their mothers will hide them in brush and go off to forage for food some distance away, sometimes for long periods so as to not call attention to their young. (A fawn or calf’s spotted coat helps camouflage them as they stay motionless except when nursing. They also have very little odor as another protection against attracting predators.)
But each year, well-intentioned people mistake a young fawn or calf hidden by its mother as permanently abandoned or orphaned and remove it from the wild to “save” it. Instead, this action drastically reduces its chance to survive in the wild. When removed from the wild, the animal misses the chance to learn where to seek cover, what to eat and how to escape from predators and other dangers.
“Sadly, we see dozens of fawns and calves that have their lifespan drastically shortened each year because people don’t understand they aren’t actually orphaned,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW Wildlife Program Manager “Please never assume a calf, fawn or other young animal is orphaned. Don’t remove it from the forest, or your backyard.
The best thing you can do is just to leave it alone and don’t let your pets near it.
Same thing with sea lion pups you might find on the beach. Mom is out hunting for food. Give those animal babies a wide berth and let them live.
If you are certain an animal is orphaned because you saw its parent die, please call ODFW, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or OSP for advice.
Locally here we have Wildlife Center for the North Coast. Their hotline is (503) 338-0331