As spring brings a surge in newborn wildlife to Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is cautioning the public to leave young animals undisturbed, even when they appear to be alone, and reminds property owners to watch for vulnerable wildlife when working on their properties.
State wildlife officials say often, young animals are incorrectly identified as orphaned and ‘rescued’ by well-meaning individuals. Depending on the species, wildlife parents may leave a nest or leave their young in a secluded spot for extended periods to hunt or forage for food, and to help keep predators away. In nearly all cases, a parent remains out of sight nearby and returns as needed to feed and care for their young. Often and as intended by wildlife, these visits are undetected by human observers (and potential predators).
Only remove wildlife if it is in obvious need of medical care for immediate transfer to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. It is illegal to handle or keep wildlife as pets. A licensed rehabilitator can evaluate and treat an animal to release back into a natural habitat.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife does not accept orphaned or injured animals. A list of approved wildlife rehabilitators is available on the department’s website, searchable by county and types of animal.
People can help wildlife thrive by being patient and taking simple precautions around their homes and properties. Keep children and pets away to avoid injury or creating a scent trail that may attract a predator, and spot check a site before mowing or commencing an outdoor project to look for young animals, keeping in mind they may be hiding in plain sight.
For more information about young wildlife, visit the department’s website at fw.ky.gov or call 1-800-858-1549, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. central time on weekdays, excluding holidays.