The beauty and dangers of spring

Each year the Dept. of Environmental Conservation sends out press releases and announcements, advising the public that springtime in the outdoors can be a dangerous season, and for a couple of reasons. But each year there are some who'll ignore the advice, and end up getting themselves in deep do-do.

One of the subjects has to do with encountering young-of-the-year wildlife. May and June are the months when all sorts of species' young-of-the-year are getting their first taste of life in the wild. Baby birds, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, foxes and deer are just a few of the species that people may encounter when outdoors. There's sometimes a temptation to bring one of these cuties home to rear and domesticate. Don't, and for several reasons.

First is the fact that having wildlife without a permit is against the law. Should an injured or otherwise distressed young wildlife specimen be found, there are licensed wildlife rehabilitators available to accept stewardship until the bird or animal can be safely released back into the wilds. Second is that most young wildlife encountered isn't "orphaned." Its parent or parents are normally close by, although you may not see them. The best examples of this are baby birds that have fallen from the nest, and bedded fawns that are accidentally found. Leave 'em be. Their mom isn't far away.

Another incentive to avoid "rescuing" young wildlife is for more personal reasons. Wild birds and animals, including young ones, can carry diseases. Some can peck, claw or bite, and such a wound can lead to infection or worse, should the creature be sick. Many also are hosts to lice or ticks.

Last but not least is the fact that young wildlife that's removed from being cared for by its parent(s) often dies within a few days, regardless of how well the "surrogate human parent" attempts to care for it. Even veteran wildlife rehabilitators admit that the survival rate for the young of some species of wildlife they receive is not all that good. So the odds of someone with little or no training and experience being successful are slim indeed. As the DEC puts its advice regarding young wildlife: "If you care, you'll leave it there."

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