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Idaho Fish and Game

Wildlife is Plentiful in Idaho

Wildlife is plentiful in Idaho. In the past 25 years, popular and easily recognized wildlife species including elk, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, the bald eagle and others have increased in number. Opportunities for enjoyment by hunters, wildlife photographers and artists, and "wildlife watchers" are numerous. Awareness and concern for wildlife resources have never been greater. This concern is often translated into efforts to assist injured, "abandoned", or "orphaned" wildlife. This goodwill effort carries many responsibilities and problems most people are unaware of and unable to manage properly. Carefully evaluate each situation before you step in. In the spring and early summer when wildlife reproduction is at its peak, you may have the good fortune to observe a nest of birds or a litter of young mammals with no adult in sight. Enjoy the sight. If nothing else appears to be amiss, leave things alone. Many species of animals are raised by one adult which at that moment is away from its young in search of the offspring's next meal. In the case of mammals, foraging for themselves so they can nurse their young. Wildlife parents are very devoted to the care of their young and rarely abandon them (abandonment usually occurs through injury to the parent). However, they cannot be in two places at once so it isn't unusual for young to be alone several times a day. Never assume abandonment has occurred! Standing watch over a deer fawn, elk calf or duckling tends to keep the parents away, even though they may be nearby. I've had fawns brought in by people who said, "I watched it from my porch all day, and the doe never came back." Without realizing it, their presence on the porch may have been enough to keep the doe away. Often, the presence of dogs in the area will keep a wild mother from returning to care for her young. If you find a seriously injured animal, or in the rare instance where you know for a fact that a brood or litter has lost its parent(s), intervention is an acceptable course of action. However, do not plan on raising the animals on your own. Young wild animals require special care and feeding that is beyond what the average household is prepared and able to manage. Additionally, possession of most species of wildlife taken from the wild is illegal in Idaho. Contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to arrange for the animal(s) to be picked up. If you have chosen to pick up the animal in the meantime, keep it in a warm, dark area. Avoid handling for your benefit and that of the animal, as it could carry parasites or diseases harmful to humans. Handling also adds stress to an already stressed animal, possibly contributing to death from mental or physical overload. Additionally you could be scratched, bitten, or kicked. Attempting to make household or backyard pets out of wild animals is a losing proposition. No matter how young they are exposed to humans or for how long, wild animals are unpredictable. Fuzzy, cute, cuddly raccoons, rabbits, fawns, etc. become adults with adult wildlife instincts, urges and behaviors. None of these are conducive to a life in someone's home or captive backyard. Persons found to be in possession of most species of wildlife are also subject to fines, restitution, and confiscation of the animal. All of us can do our part to prevent wildlife injury, abandonment, and death. Although pets have plenty of food available, when running at large their predatory instincts take over. Domestic dogs and cats are very capable and prone to disturbing nesting and rearing wild animals. Confining pets when not attended reduces the number of wild animals orphaned or injured, particularly in the spring and summer months when young are highly vulnerable