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Leave Young Wildlife in the Wild
05/20/2008
Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Office: (503) 947-6009
 
Lieutenant David Gifford
Fish & Wildlife Division- Southwest Region
Office: (541) 776-6114 ext. 245

A southwest Oregon bear cub will spend the rest of its life in captivity because it was removed from the wild and raised by people for weeks. An Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division
investigation resulted in an OSP trooper citing 28-year-old GABRIEL S. MARANOV, of Sunny Valley, last week for the Class A misdemeanor charge of Unlawful Possession of Black Bear Cub, punishable by up to one year in jail or a $6,250 fine.
 
ODFW, Oregon State Police and the state's licensed wildlife rehabilitators remind Oregonians to live by the motto "if you care, leave them there" and leave young animals in the wild. This is the time of year when Oregon's wildlife are giving birth to their young, and parents will temporarily and naturally leave their young to feed elsewhere.
 
Removing or "capturing" wildlife from the wild and keeping them in captivity without a permit are considered Class A misdemeanors in Oregon, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,250 fine. Holding birds and marine mammals are also violations of federal laws.
 
If you see an animal that clearly is in distress, is being disturbed by people or pets, is in a situation that endangers the animal (such as lying near or in a road)-or you are certain an animal is orphaned because you saw the parent die-call your local ODFW or OSP office, or a local wildlife rehabilitation center.
 
Unfortunately, the young bear cub situation likely will be repeated this year, ruining more animals' chances at long-term survival in a natural habitat. "It's the number one phone call this time of year," says Karen Munday of the Audubon Society of Portland (http://www.audobonportland.org.  "People find healthy young birds and mammals and mistakenly think they need help."
 
During spring and summer, our biggest challenge is to keep people from bringing in healthy nestling and fledgling birds and to help them understand that their best chance is to be left with their parents," continued Munday. Fledgling birds should be left alone to learn to fly; nestling birds (baby birds not fully feathered) should be quickly returned to their nest (see tips below).
 
Cory Alvis of Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education (http://www.wildlifeimages.org) in Merlin, Oregon sees well-intentioned people "fawn-nap" young deer out of the wild every year.  By instinct, does leave fawns for extended periods to feed and so they don't draw attention to their newborns.  Fawns are generally safe from predators because of their lack of scent and their protective coloring.  "Most of the fawns we see are perfectly healthy and the mother doe was probably nearby grazing when her fawn was kidnapped from the wild," says Alvis.
 
Removing the fawn from the wild is usually a death sentence for the animal. These fawns never learn important survival skills such as how to escape from predators. Coupled with the facts that most fawns come to their facility in poor condition and relocating fawns can spread disease, Wildlife Images recently decided to stop rehabilitating fawns.
 
"It's very difficult to rehabilitate fawns and Mother Nature can do it much better than us," explained Alvis. Wildlife Images now works with ODFW to return healthy fawns known to be orphaned to an area of high deer concentration for fostering by another adult doe.
 
Oregon's 92 licensed wildlife rehabilitators have skills, equipment and special training to keep wildlife they work with from becoming habituated to people. Animals that lose their fear of people often must be put down to protect public safety-as occurred several years ago near Sisters, after a buck that had been unlawfully raised by people as a fawn attacked a man.
 
Lynn Tompkins with Blue Mountain Wildlife rehabilitation center in Pendleton uses special "hack boxes" to rehabilitate the hawks, barn owls, and other birds that come to her Pendleton facility.  "We use an artificial next box and feed the birds through a chute so they don't see people," explained Tompkins.  "Right now we even have wild barn owls bringing food to three hack boxes."
 
Tompkins notes many people take in wildlife without realizing the type or volume of food needed-and the animals suffer for it. "Last year some baby barn owls that had been fed hamburger meat came in, all with multiple fractures. Only one lived," she said. Another fawn brought to rehabilitator Tracy Leonhardy in Sisters died two days later because it had been fed baby formula, which poisoned it.
 
Tompkins cites two recent cases involving birds and skunks that were held by and habituated to people, and now must spend the rest of their life in captivity. "All these animals were perfectly healthy and should have been left alone-or, once the mistake of removing them had been made, brought to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the skills to eventually return them to the wild," she said.
 
Before you put wildlife or your neighbors at risk by removing an animal from the wild, call ODFW, OSP or a wildlife rehabilitator.
 
If you see a marine mammal in distress or stranded, contact OSP's hotline at 800-452-7888.
 
Tips on helping young wildlife
BIRDS
Leave fledgling birds alone. It is natural for fledgling (mostly feathered) birds to appear awkward while learning how to fly. If you see one on the ground, turn around and walk away, and bring your pets indoors. The mother bird will feed it on the ground until it "gets its wings."
 
Return nestling birds to the nest. Nestlings (baby birds not fully feathered) found on the ground can be gently and quickly returned to the nest. If the nest is out of reach, place the bird on an elevated branch or fence, or in a sub-nest like a small box, up high out of the reach of children and pets. Leave the area so the parents can return.
 
Bring your pets indoors. Cats are the number one cause of injury for all birds and especially young birds, says Audubon Society of Portland. Keep your pets away from fledgling birds learning to fly and other young
wildlife.
 
What if a bird flies into a window and appears hurt?
 
Birds don't recognize glass and are confused by reflective surfaces, causing then to occasionally fly into windows. If you find a bird that has been stunned as a result of hitting a window, put the bird in an uncovered box with a towel on the bottom. Keep it in a quiet place away from pets and check back in a couple of hours. If the bird has recovered, it will have flown off. If not, contact a local ODFW office or your local wildlife rehabilitator.
 
MAMMALS AND OTHER WILDLIFE
 
Remember "nuisance" animals nesting in your house may be caring for young. Don't move a raccoon, squirrel or other wild animal from an attic, barn or crawl space in the spring or early summer without considering it may have young nearby. Once all animals move out or are removed, avoid future problems with wildlife by tightly sealing all vents and openings and covering chimneys with a screen. Call ODFW for advice or to find a licensed wildlife control operator who can help you address nuisance wildlife problems.
 
Leave fawns, elk calves, and other young wildlife alone. By instinct, does leave fawns for extended periods to feed and so they don't draw attention to their newborns. Fawns are generally safe from predators because of their lack of scent and their protective coloring. Unless you witnessed the death of a parent, never assume an animal is orphaned, and leave it alone.
 
Leave marine mammals on the beach. Young seals are often left on the beach while mothers feed in the ocean. Don't touch, feed or try to move it. Stay back at least 100 yards and make sure dogs are leashed. If you see a baby sea lion, seal pup, or other young marine mammal stranded or in distress, contact OSP's special hotline for marine mammals at 1-800-452-7888.