There’s nothing more spring-like than a collection of young animals. It’s no coincidence that this abundance of babies occurs when everything is waking up from winter’s nap. Longer, sunnier days and intermittent rain lead to abundant food sources in the weeks leading up to and directly following the spring equinox, when baby animals come into a bright, new world.
While it’s not uncommon to see and hear baby wildlife around us, it’s startling when they appear to be alone, hurt, or abandoned.
Most people have good intentions when it comes to helping others in need. Baby wildlife seem so helpless to us when they aren’t in their nests or protected by their knowing parents. But often, our efforts to help them end up with drastically different results.
Paying Attention to Details
It’s natural to want to help baby wildlife that appear to need help, but for their own sake, we must be able to distinguish the signs of abandonment, loss, distress and injury. Don’t rush in and assume that the parents are dead. More often than not, they are searching for food and plan on returning. If you get too close too fast, you can potentially scare off the parents and they won’t be coming back.
Set the Stop Watch
Make a note of the time. If the parent of the baby wildlife aren’t back within several hours, or up to a full 24 hours, they may not ever return. Some species are only fed by their parents at dawn and dusk, so be cautious about stepping in prior to their next possible meal.
When to Assist Baby Wildlife
There are some prerequisites to consider prior to jumping in. If your cat or dog has brought a baby animal to you as a trophy, and they’re still breathing, it’s time to step in. Likewise, if you come across a baby animal that is bleeding, has broken limbs, or is shivering and crying, please don’t wait to seek help on their behalf.
Always take a look around for possible evidence of what preceded the animal’s predicament, such as a burst of feathers on the ground (in the case of baby bird), or their parent’s body nearby.
Safe Capture and Transport
Contacting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, through the South Florida Wildlife Center or the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They will be able to walk you through the complete and proper way to capture baby wildlife and directions for transporting them to the right facility. A licensed rehab center is a young animal’s best chance at being properly cared for and safely returned to the wild.
It is crucial not to touch baby wildlife without protection, and do not try to feed the animal food or water.
When baby wildlife are interfered with by well-meaning humans, their chances of reuniting with their parents are jeopardized. If it’s at all possible that their mother is observing you from a distance, it’s essential that you give the baby animal a wide berth. Similarly, keep your pet away from them and inhibit children from getting too close.