This is the time of the year when you may start to notice nests and dens occupied by young wildlife around your home. If you do, help keep wildlife wild by remembering the following if you encounter a young animal alone:
• Adult animals rarely abandon their young. Parents often leave young unattended for long periods of time to gather food and may only return a few times a day. A nest or den without a parent present does not necessarily mean that the young have been abandoned.
• Do not hover to see if a parent has come back to its young. An adult animal will not return if people or pets are close to the nest or den. Give the young space and only check back periodically. If you can’t tell if a parent has checked on a nest, place straw or grass over the nest and return later to see if it has been disturbed.
• Young wildlife should not be handled. Human scent is unlikely to cause parents to abandon their young; however, handling young wildlife and disturbance of a nest can alert predators to the young animal’s presence. Young may also carry disease or parasites they can transfer to people or pets, and are capable of biting or scratching.
Rescuing young wildlife is legal, keeping them is not. Rescued wildlife must be given to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 24 hours. For a list of wildlife rehabilitators or more information on orphaned and injured wildlife, visit: on.IN.gov/keepwildlifewild