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A Few Tips On Interacting With Newborn Wildlife



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A Few Tips On Interacting With Newborn Wildlife

By Kendra Bobowick

It’s that time of year: a newborn fawn is curled in a pocket of tall grass near the back shed, or tiny birds screech from a tangle of twigs perched in an awning. Leave them alone, stressed Newtown’s Animal Control staff.

“So many people bring me baby birds,” said Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason. Assistant Animal Control Officer Matt Schaub said, “The mothers during the day are out getting food.” Chances are good that the young wildlife has not been abandoned, and human intervention will separate the babies from the mothers, they explained. “You do more damage; the babies could die,” Mr Schaub said. Like any mothers and newborns, “They just want to feed their families,” Ms Mason added.

Ms Mason recalls trying to return a fawn to its original location one year when she spied the mother “staring at me, just ten feet away.” Mothers will often leave their fawns “for hours,” Ms Mason explained.

The scenario is nothing new, Mr Schaub said. “We are just seeing more and more of it…” Mothers will locate their fawns near homes because “we’re not a threat,” he said. And as new construction takes place, the deer and other wildlife must find new places for their families, he said.

Stressing the importance of keeping dogs on a leash, Ms Mason said that newborn fawns and roaming dogs do not mix. Rules will be enforced, she said.

Weston-based Wildlife in Crisis Associate Director Peter Reid ran through a list of animals raising young in the spring.

Of fawns he said, “People often see them nestled quietly in the shrubbery — just leave them.” Mothers forage in the day and retrieve the fawns after dusk, he said. During the day the fawns are “very still, without very much scent,” he said. If the fawn is wandering and bleating, it may have been separated from its mother, which could mean that human intervention is required, he said. “In most cases if people handle the fawn, at that point it’s tricky to reunite. All mothers are attentive, but people intervene and it causes problems.”

Lately, his organization has been “getting a lot of calls about bunnies.” Mr Reid said the mother lines a bed with her fur for a nest and feeds during the day, returning at night to nurse. For anyone who may find baby bunnies hidden in a nest in the yard, he advises again: leave them alone.

If the dog disturbs their nest, Mr Reid suggests “reconstituting the nest,” but wear gloves to avoid leaving human scent. Like the fawns, if tiny bunnies are wandering and lost, they may need help.

Speaking about raccoons, he said, “We see a lot of them in the day — it’s not uncommon in the spring, and they’re not necessarily rabid.” The mothers may be foraging. “Give her room,” he said. “It’s not necessary to have a knee-jerk reaction that it needs to be shot.”

Foxes are also raising their kits at this time of the spring. Under pressure from coyotes, he said they will nest under sheds. “There could be a lot of active dens in the yards,” Mr Reid said. “They view [proximity] as protection against coyotes.” The foxes are not dangerous to people. “We’ll often see babies tumbling from the den and playing. It may be inconvenient, but it’s a natural phenomenon.”

Baby birds may fall from a nest. Use gloves and look for the nest nearby, he said. “You can always put the baby back [in the nest],” he said.

Coyotes, too, are in the area. “They are ordinarily not a danger to us, but steer clear,” Mr Reid said. Coyote populations have “recolonized in this range; they’re here to stay.” Regarding any baby wildlife that people may find, he said, “The mother is always the best one to care for them.”

He said, “We promote a live and let live concept. [Wildlife] lives among us; accommodate where possible.”

Animal Control is always willing to take calls and to help where needed, assured Carolee Mason. Call her office at 203-426-6900. Reach Wildlife in Crisis at 203-544-9913.

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