RUMFORD — With the arrival of spring, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is reminding people headed outdoors to let young animals stay with their mothers.
Additionally, they’re offering some simple steps to be safe among Maine’s wildlife.
“If You Care, Leave Them There” is the department’s catch phrase for fawns, robins, raccoons, moose calves and other young wildlife.
Spring is when many people encounter young critters out exploring their surroundings while their adult animal parents search for food.
“People often stumble upon a fawn hidden in the leaves on the forest floor, young birds taking their first flights, or young raccoon and fox kits wandering a bit too far from the home den and mistake them for being abandoned,” Deborah Turcotte, MDIF&W spokeswoman, said in a Friday report in Augusta.
“They are not abandoned; they are waiting for the adults to return with food.”
She said well-meaning people often pick up young wildlife in the mistaken belief they’ve been left behind.
“The mother-young bond is very strong in mammals and birds, and parents will return given the opportunity to do so without human interference,” she said.
“In most instances, if you come across any healthy young wild animal or bird, leave it alone. The mother will come back to care for it as long as humans move a distance away to let the family reassemble.”
People with pets are asked to put them inside the home or on leashes so they can’t disturb the young “wildlings.”
“If, however, you think an animal may be orphaned, please call an MDIF&W regional biologist to see whether that is the case,” Turcotte said.
“Please do not pick it up and take it home. Wild birds and mammals do not make good pets, and it’s against the law to possess them without the proper state and federal permits.”
Every spring, moose calves and deer fawns are brought to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray or to wildlife rehabilitators. The majority of them are not orphans, she said.
Turcotte offered a few tips from the department on what to do when spotting young wildlife or birds:
* Fawns and moose calves: If you encounter a fawn, leave it alone. The adult mother does return two to three times a day to young fawns to nurse them; otherwise leaving them stashed in a protected place and relying on their camouflage and lack of scent to protect them from predators.
As soon as fawns are able to keep up with mom, they travel more with her as she forages for food.
* Squirrels or raccoons: If a nest of squirrels or raccoons must be disturbed (for example, if a tree has been cut down or fallen), leave the young in the den part of the tree or nearby in a protected place.
The mother will in all likelihood come back and move them to a new location.
* Birds: The same is true for a bird’s nest. Put the nest and nestlings into a nearby tree, supported in a basket or other container that has drainage.
The mother robin or blue jay is probably right around the corner and will return to feed the young and care for them until they can fly on their own.