Each spring, many Kansans find young wildlife that appear to be abandoned or injured. While it may be human nature to want to “save” the animal, the most beneficial course of action is to simply let the animal be.
Not only does Kansas law prohibit the possession of most wildlife, but many wildlife are not abandoned at all. Many adult animal species leave their young during the day to seek out food and/or to avoid drawing the attention of predators to their nest and/or young. When a young animal is taken away from its natural habitat, its chances of survival diminish greatly, with most perishing shortly after capture. For the animals that do survive being “rescued,” their lack of learned survival skills that can only come from a life in the wild mean they can never again return to their intended home.
Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators can possess wild animals in Kansas because each animal requires specialized care, not to mention specialized knowledge of potential diseases the animal may carry. Wild animals also commonly carry fleas and ticks – which can transmit blood-borne diseases to humans – and also may carry bacteria, roundworms, tapeworms, mites and other protozoans that could infect humans and their pets. Kansans can keep themselves and their pets safe by simply not touching wildlife.
This time of year, it’s not uncommon for storms to blow young birds out of their nests. For those who feel compelled to assist, consider the following guidance:
If you’ve found a young bird that has feathers and can perch: Place them back in the nearest tree or shrub, away from cats or other pets. The parents will still care for them, even if you’ve touched them.
If you’ve found a nest with nestlings: Place the nest in a plastic bowl and back in the tree, or as close to the nearest tree or shrub as possible. Remaining in their nest in or near a tree is the nestlings’ best chance of survival. Do not remove the birds from the wild.
Enjoy watching wildlife this spring, especially if you see young ones. But make a pact to leave them alone. Let nature take its course and know that wild animals have the best chance of survival in the wild.