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Fri, Dec. 13

Orphaned wildlife not what it seems
Game and Fish asks public to leave babies alone

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->A couple of red-tail hawk juveniles in a nest built in a Joshua tree.

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->A couple of red-tail hawk juveniles in a nest built in a Joshua tree.

KINGMAN - The wildlife Amber Alert has been sounding as parents search in vain for their young.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds the public that wildlife, like humans, will take steps to protect their young.

For wildlife, leaving young behind is generally a protective slight-of-hand trick by animals as a response to a potential threat. It is unlikely these animals have been abandoned and they should not be whisked away by well-intentioned individuals.

Such an action can have dire consequences for wildlife.

"The intentions are good, but the results are often a death sentence," said Erin Butler, game specialist with the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman.

Concerned citizens bring in baby birds, rabbits, and assorted other critters to Game and Fish offices. If at an age where they can't survive, these animals are humanely euthanized.

Butler explained that young wildlife is rarely abandoned. When a perceived threat - such as a human in close proximity - disappears, the parents will return.

Butler said young quail will follow their mothers soon after hatching, but if the mother is frightened, she will fly away or try to distract the perceived predator by acting injured. When the threat is gone, the mother returns.

"It's also important to remember quail are a ground-based bird," Butler said. "They do not fall from nests."

Quail, however, are just one example. Removal of pronghorn fawns is a liability and baby rabbits, often thought to be in distress when seen alone, will most certainly die if removed from the wild.

Avian parents will continue to care for a hatchling that has fallen from a nest. However, if the bird is in immediate danger, it is okay to place them back in the nest or in a nearby tree. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not concern the parents.

"It's nice to have people so concerned about the welfare of wildlife," Butler said. "We just ask that people do what is best for the animals and leave them alone."

There are other methods to help: watch your pets and your vehicle speed. Domestic dogs and cats can negatively impact wildlife, especially in the spring when young are born and hatched, while vehicles remain the top killer of wildlife in the nation.

"Young animals have plenty to worry about in the wild," Butler said. "Toss in domestic animals and the problem is compounded. Some of the young received at the office are the result of an attack by a pet."

As for human intervention, it's simply best to let nature run its course.

"You wouldn't want someone picking up your child in the front yard and dropping them off at the police station when you simply stepped into the house for a moment," Butler said. "There's no reason to remove wildlife, either."

If you have questions about a situation you may contact the Game and Fish office at (928) 692-7700.

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