May IDNR Wildlife Bulletin Newsletter: Spring is here and with many of us stuck near home, we may notice new arrivals in our backyards. This time of year, many wild animals are born, including rabbits, squirrels, birds, and fawns. Other wildlife, like turtles, are on the move and more likely to be seen. While it’s easy to enjoy the great outdoors and practice social distancing from people, remember to practice social distancing from wildlife, too. Help us keep wildlife wild.
• Remember that adult animals rarely abandon their young – It is common for the parent to leave them while they search for food. Do not hover to see if a parent comes back; they won’t return if a person is standing nearby. Give the animal space and only check back periodically.
• Young wildlife should not be handled. They can carry diseases or parasites and are capable of inflicting damage by biting or scratching. Human scent can also alert predators to the young animal’s presence. However, nestlings and small mammals can be safely returned to their nests if they have fallen out and are uninjured. Once the animal has been returned safely, leave the area.
• Pets should be supervised at all times when outdoors. With so many young animals in nests, this keeps both pets and wildlife safe.
• Except for properly maintained birdfeeders, do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife can lead to loss of fear, conflicts, and diseases spreading. Creating habitat is a healthy alternative that provides both food and shelter.
• Help turtles cross roads, don’t take them home. May marks the beginning of turtle nesting season, and some species are endangered or of special concern. Let them continue to contribute to wild populations by only helping turtles cross roads. Be sure to move them in the direction they were heading once traffic has cleared.
While rescuing young wildlife is legal, keeping them is not. Truly orphaned wild animals must be given to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator within 24 hours to maximize their chance of survival. For more information about orphaned wildlife, visit Orphaned & Injured Animals.
Orphaned & Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Resourceful Animal Relationships, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
No Room at the Inn: Suburban Backyards and Migratory Birds, The Education Store
Purdue Extension – FNR: Ask The Expert, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel