It’s that time of year again. At least once a day well-meaning people bring perfectly healthy baby wildlife into our veterinary clinic. Most of these babies have functioning parents who are taking great care of them. It is often not obvious that the parents are around. The important thing to do is to call first before taking action unless their life is obvious danger.
Concerning deer, fawns will be born very soon. The only way one should assume a fawn is orphaned is if you see it touching a dead doe. Does hide their fawns and only visit them a few times a day for short visits. This is how they ensure the survival of the species. Junior may look disoriented and even bleat but Mom is usually within a hundred yards. Do not pick up these little guys and take them home or rush them to the vet clinic! It is OK to pick them up and move them up to 50 yards from a dangerous location, such as a roadside. The does will find them and not reject them because of human smell. Call first for advice if you’re unsure.
As for birds, contrary to popular belief most of our baby birds do not sit in the nest until they are ready to fly. As soon as they can walk they leave the nest and hop around in trees, brush and on the ground while the parents frantically try to feed them all. In almost all cases the parents have the situation under control. You may not see the parents. They fly in quietly, feed the baby quickly and scram. Remember, they don’t want to call attention to their less-than-mobile babies.
Finally, seals. Please don’t pick up and bring these little guys home. Their mothers leave them on the beach and return for them, mostly after dark. They may abandon the babies forever if they return and find you, your kids and dogs crowded around. My best advice is to notify your neighbors and keep everyone away. Stay far back and notify the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network (1-866-ORCANET). They have further resources to protect them.
I truly appreciate that people are genuinely concerned with our wildlife. The vast majority of infant wildlife falls into the above categories. Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. I am always happy to advise people about wildlife problems. Remember, unless a life is in imminent danger, call first before taking action.
DAVID PARENT, DVM
Useless Bay Animal Clinic