What should I do if I find an orphaned or abandoned young baby wild animal? in New Jersey | Opossum
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What should I do if I find an orphaned or abandoned young baby wild animal?
If you care, leave it there.
Though it is human nature to want to help, the best thing to do when encountering an injured or orphaned wild animal is to leave it alone and undisturbed.
In many cases, it is against the law to capture, transport or possess wild animals. Generally, animals are better off left where they are found.
You are more likely to encounter or observe young, baby animals in the spring and early summer. Juvenile animals are common during these seasons as young animals begin to explore their environment, learn to forage/hunt and defend themselves. It is not uncommon to find young wildlife alone while the parents are hunting/foraging or during a den relocation. Wildlife parents will return to the den site twice a day or more — calling and waiting for a response from their young to then provide the necessary care of the young and/or move the young, one by one, to the new den site. You may see young animals alone during relocation and dispersal phases. Predators are less likely to find the young if the parents move the den location and doing so reduces the chances of entire den failure.
If you encounter what appears to be orphaned wildlife, you should leave them alone and immediately leave the area, allowing the parents to return and continue to care for their offspring.
If you encounter young deer (fawns), leave the area immediately. Do not touch or interact with the fawn. Fawns are virtually scentless and use this advantage to avoid predation. Female deer (does) often leave their fawns alone for hours to forage and to reduce attracting predators to the fawn. You are most likely to see fawns from March-September. If you have encountered a fawn that you believe to be orphaned or injured, note the location of the animal and leave the area immediately. Contact your local wildlife agency to inquire about licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area.
The same holds true for many other wildlife species including rabbits, foxes, coyotes, birds, and squirrels — If you care, leave it there.
Laws and regulations to be aware of
While we attempt to provide guidance about state and federal regulations pertaining to specific species and control techniques, we do not provide information about local jurisdictions (city, town, county, etc.) where regulations may be more restrictive, especially as it applies to discharge of firearms, transport of animals or use of trapping equipment. Contact your local city or county government to inquire further. No guarantee is made that information (or lack of information) associated with a species or control technique is completely accurate or current. You should become familiar with federal, state and local laws before beginning any wildlife control activities.