‘ORPHANED’ BABY ANIMALS: ARE THEY REALLY ABANDONED?
Michigan Humane Society says think twice before intervening with wildlife
ROCHESTER HILLS — Each year, from the first signs of spring to early fall, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) Wildlife Department, located at the MHS Rochester Hills Center for Animal Care, cares for hundreds of baby animals that are surrendered to MHS. Sadly, many will not thrive away from their mother’s care. To help save lives, MHS is asking residents to exercise caution before intervening with what may appear to be orphaned baby animals they come across.
“The majority of these wild animal babies coming to us were most likely not orphaned, but were only thought to be by well-meaning people who came across them,” said Dave Bjarnesen, MHS Wildlife Technician. “When baby animals are removed from their mother and their habitat, they often cannot survive. It’s usually in the animals’ best interest to risk handling or moving them only if they are in immediate danger.”
While it may appear that baby animals such as birds, ducks, fawns, rabbits and squirrels are abandoned when they are without their parents, most of the time the mother is nearby. It is normal for many species to leave their young unattended for hours at a time. A doe may leave her fawn for up to eight hours before returning to nurse. Fawns do not carry a scent, so by watching her young from a distance, a doe helps keep her scent from attracting predators to them.
Another often-misunderstood sight is when young birds, which typically do not fly as soon as they leave the nest, spend a few days on the ground to build up their flight muscles; during this time, they may appear to be injured.
Before intervening with wildlife or for more information, please contact either your local Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office, or the DNR’s Wildlife Department at (517) 373-1263. You can also contact the MHS Wildlife Department at (248) 852-7420, ext. 224. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
For potentially life-saving tips on living in harmony with wildlife, visit www.michiganhumane.org/wildlife.
The Michigan Humane Society is a private, nonprofit organization which cares for more than 100,000 animals each year, while working to end companion animal homelessness, provide the highest quality service and compassion to the animals entrusted to our care, and to be a leader in promoting humane values.