Baby animals: unless there's danger, don't touch, says wildlife organization

Baby animals: unless there's danger, don't touch, says wildlife organization

While newborn animals may seem abandoned and defenceless, that may not be the case. 

Salthaven West, a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation centre based in Regina, tweeted out a message on Friday which said you can look — but don't touch. 

If the animal isn't visibly injured or incapacitated, just leave it alone, the organization urges.

"We always tell people that, when they come across a baby animal, if they aren't sure whether it needs help to always call someone for advice before they remove it from the situation," said Megan Lawrence, director of rehabilitation for Salthaven West. 

The exception to that rule would be the animal is in immediate danger, such as being attacked by a cat or a dog, Lawrence said. 


The tweet contained a graphic by the Medicine River Wildlife Centre which detailed natural occurrences which may draw concern by passersby without proper context. 

Within the last 48 hours or so, Lawrence said there have been more baby animals taken into Salthaven due to animal attacks, mostly cats or trees being cut down.

"We really encourage people to keep their domestic house cats inside, especially during spring and summer, when it's baby season," Lawrence said, adding that's when the baby animals are most vulnerable. 

Don't turn a rescue into an abduction

In the case of baby hares, Lawrence said little Thumper is an independent animal, even at infancy. A hare will feed her offspring twice a day, Lawrence said. When the mother returns under the cover of darkness, she will call out to them. 

If a baby hare is removed, it will not hear its mother's call and could starve to death. If they are brought into rehabilitation centres, Lawrence said they will take a look at the animals but advise people to return them to where they were found if they appear healthy. 

"We don't want to turn a rescue into an abduction," she said. "It's always best for a wild animal to be raised by its parents."

Deer and fledgling birds are also at-risk of goodwill intervention, Lawrence said.

In the case of fledgling birds, they cannot fly. After they leave the nest, baby birds spend about five to eight days on the ground before they can actually take to the air. Parents will visit every 30 minutes or so, give them food and leave, Lawrence said.

"We encourage people not to bring them in the house, not move them too far from their original location," she said. "We want the parents to be able to find them." 

In the case of fawns, they're unable to run in their infancy, Lawrence said. The parent will tuck the fawn in a safe space, where it can be left alone, camouflaged for six to 12 hours per day before she returns to feed her offspring.

Lawrence's advice when it comes to the fawn is to admire from afar, unless they're obviously hurt or malnourished.

"Mom leaves them for very, very long periods of time and they are very often not orphaned."