By Tracie Hornung
This is the time of year when Rowena Wildlife Clinic and other wildlife rehabilitators get lots of calls from concerned people who believe a baby animal has been abandoned by its mother.
However, in many — if not most — cases mom is simply nearby foraging. If you take the baby away from where mom left it you may be creating a crisis that would not have existed.
Here’s a recent example: A woman’s well-meaning son found a young fawn. He picked it up, took it home, and his mother called the wildlife clinic. The clinic volunteer told them to search the area for a dead doe (presumably the mom) and if there was no sight of a dead deer in the area, to put the fawn back where he found it — and to watch and wait. If the mom did not come back after a certain period of time, she was either dead, or had abandoned the fawn for some reason, or the baby had already been away too long and its mom had given up on it.
The last scenario is the one you don’t want to create.
Unfortunately, a myth still persists about wildlife: that the scent of a human on a wild animal baby will drive off the mom. That is incorrect. (See this article by the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game.) So don’t let that myth influence your behavior.
Another thing to keep in mind: Removing or “capturing” an animal from the wild and keeping it in captivity without a permit is against Oregon state law (OAR 635-044-0015), as is transporting many animals. Most other states have similar laws. Last year, seven people in Oregon were cited for such offenses.