What to do when you encounter newborn wildlife 

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
For local wildlife, spring isn't just for bears coming out of hibernation. It's also when a new generation of wildlife enters the world. Baby birds hatch, and deer, squirrels and other mammals give birth, too. The Spring' close proximity to vast square miles of National Forest land, national parks and monuments and local parks increases the chances of encountering newborn wildlife — even in your own yard.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, it's normal for animals to leave their young alone while they go search for food. But encountering newborn wildlife can be an awe inspiring event, and can trigger emotions causing someone to want to "rescue" what they think is an animal in distress. Newborn animals, like deer, are often found without any adult animals nearby, leading people to believe that the newborn has been abandoned. That, however, is typically not the case.

A now infamous instance in 2016 saw a visitor in Yellowstone National Park pick up a baby bison and bring it a ranger station. Because of the human interference, the baby bison, still dependent on its mother for nutrition at the time, was rejected by the mother and risked slowly starving to death. A a result, it had to be euthanized.

It's not just newborn mammals either. Small birds found on the ground and believed to have fallen out of nests may actually be just learning how to fly — eventually just flying away. 

So what should people do when they encounter newborn wildlife? Very simply: Nothing.

Keep your pets away, and don't get too close to the newborn since the parents may be nearby. Leave them undisturbed and don't scare them away. If the baby is still there after 24 hours, or is visibly sick or injured, leave it alone and call CPW (in Colorado Springs: (719) 227-5200). CPW has teams that can determine if the animal is in distress and respond appropriately.

For more information on encounters with wildlife, visit the CPW website.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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