Don't be a Wildlife Parent
How many times have you found a young bird that has apparently fallen out of its nest? How many times have you seen young rabbits in a nest and the adult rabbits nowhere in sight? How many times have you seen a small chipmunk in the clutches of a cat or dog? How many of these times have you raced to the rescue of these animals, taken them home only to watch helplessly while they died?
More times than not, this is the fate of many young animals that were abducted from the wild to be cared for by humans. Although the intention cannot be faulted, the bottom line is that wild animals should remain where they are – in the wild! People should also be reminded that it is not only unwise to take in a wild animal; it is illegal without proper permits.
Young wild animals are not helpless, and they are usually not abandoned. A young bird fluttering under a tree is not necessarily injured; it could be learning to fly under the watchful eye of a nearby parent. Just because you do not see the adult animal does not mean that they are not around. If a young bird has fallen from the nest, don't take it home. Pick it up and place it back in the nest. The mother will continue to care for it and she will do a much better job than a human can. If you discover a nest of rabbits, leave them alone! Although you may never see the female, she returns periodically to care for them.
Wild animals do not make good pets.
They demand an enormous amount of attention and are not as easily cared for as a dog or cat. Wildlife, such as raccoons, can quickly change from playful to harmful animals. Each year, captive wild animals injure people. Even if the intent is to set the animals free when they are older, people should still refrain from attempting to raise wildlife. Domesticating a wild animal will cause it to lose its natural fear of humans. This natural fear is vital to the animal's survival as well as public safety.
In addition, animals can become "imprinted". "Imprinted" means that the young animal thinks that humans are their parents. They also do not realize that they are a raccoon, squirrel, opossum, etc. When this happens, the animal cannot be releases into the wild. They are either destined to a life in captivity or may slowly starve to death if released.
Wild animals can also spread disease. Wild animals can carry rabies, skin diseases, tuberculosis, distemper, and respiratory problems. Rabies, which is always a threat in the wild, can be transmitted to humans with a bite or a scratch. In addition wild animals can carry mites, lice, ticks, fleas, heartworms, roundworms and tapeworms.
If you must pick up an injured wild animal, cover it with a cloth to calm it and gently place the animal in a box. Don't try to take care of the animal yourself. These animals require special care and treatment. Contact a Conservation Officer at 219-879-5710 or the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife at 317-232-4080 for the name of the nearest wildlife rehabilitator. Unless an animal is injured, look the other way and avoid being a wildlife parent.
Reprinted with permission from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife
For reservations and more information about the Lake County Parks Call 219-769-PARK
Mon-Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm Central Time (Chicago Time)
Lake County Parks and Recreation Department Corporate Office
8411 East Lincoln Highway, Crown Point, Indiana 46307
Just west of Deep River WaterparK 4.5 miles east of I-65 on Route 30