Interfering With Wildlife Could Be Harmful, Say Game And Fish Officials


In nature's scheme, it's common for mothers of wild animals, mostly deer and elk, to leave their newborn alone for extended periods of time.

Like clockwork, moms return in time to tend to their young until they are old enough to run with the herd.

Problems usually result when well-intended humans stumble upon the lone newborn and believe it has been abandoned or is in some type of danger.

Upon finding such an animal, said local Arizona Game and Wildlife Manager Carl Lutch, people should never touch the baby animal, remain in the area or try to remove the creature from its habitat.

Almost every summer, usually in August when fawns are born, Lutch and his fellow officers must unravel the problems created when humans mistakenly rush to aid of what they believe are animals in danger.

In Pine last week, Lutch was called to the home of a local resident who was keeping a fawn in his garage.

The resident, Lutch said, told him that he had been harboring the young whitetail deer for the past two days because he observed a pair of dogs stalking the animal.

Because it was a weekend, the resident said he was awaiting the opening of Game and Fish offices Monday morning to report the situation.

While Lutch didn't cite the resident, he did remove the animal and take it to a wildlife center near Prescott where it will be cared for before being released.

As well-meaning as the man's intentions might have been, wild animals should be left alone at all costs, Lutch said.

His advice to Rim country residents and visitors who come across newborn deer or elk is to "leave and let the mother take care of its baby."

Most often, mom is nearby and set to return, but won't because of the presence of humans.

Should a person make the unwise decision of removing a baby from its habitat, it's almost impossible to return it to its mother, Lutch said.

In such cases, the babies must then be taken to rehabilitation centers like the one near Prescott, where they are nursed and cared for until old enough to fend for themselves.

Even then, Lutch said, the human-raised animal doesn't have much of a chance for survival.

"The animal doesn't have the natural instincts that a mother teaches. I don't think their success rate is very high," he said. "It's a wild animal -- let it have a chance to grow up wild."

For more on wildlife information from the Game and Fish Department, call (480) 981-9400.

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