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DNR?advises to let wildlife remain wild

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This is the time of year when young animals are scampering about lawns, roadsides and just about everywhere in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Birds are falling out of their nests and turtles are crossing roads to lay their eggs. Fawns or wolf pups can be mistaken as abandoned or lost, but in reality the mother is nearby and will soon return.

People should always leave fawns and pups alone unless it can be verified that the mother is dead or the animal is seriously injured, said Carrol Henderson, Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor. The parent is almost always nearby or will return shortly.

Many small animals like rabbits attend to their young just a few minutes a day and intentionally stay away from their young to avoid drawing attention of predators. If the young are really small and have been removed from the nesting site, return them to the nest as soon as possible, Henderson said.

Birds can be handled the same way. Sometimes nests get crowded as the birds grow, and young birds get crowded out before they are ready to leave. These birds will usually do fine because they will be fed by their parents on the ground. Only very young birds without feathers should be picked up and returned to the nest, Henderson said.

Henderson also said people should contain their dogs and keep cats indoors during this time of year.

Rehabilitation of wildlife is intended for the animals to be returned to the wild when they have fully recovered and are capable of surviving on their own.

"Many people do not know what to do when they find an injured or orphaned animal," said Dan Stark, DNR's wolf biologist. "The process is very difficult and intense. Rehabbing wildlife becomes more difficult and complex with larger species. Many animals that become hand raised are not good candidates for release back into the wild," he said.

Natural processes are often difficult to witness, especially when an animal appears to be suffering, Stark said. Some wildlife species at a young age naturally have high rates of mortality even when cared for by their parents, but the populations continue to do well despite this mortality.

The best thing for people to do is to call the DNR Information Center or visit the DNR Web site for the telephone number of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Henderson said. Injured wild animals require skilled care that can only be provided by a DNR permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

For information or help concerning injured or orphaned wildlife, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 in the Twin Cities area or call toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

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