Wild Animal Babies Rarely Need Us To Rescue Them

FOCUS ON PETS

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This is the time of year when wild animal babies of all kinds and sizes are being born in the surrounding forest and on vacant land around us. When we see a baby alone, we assume it has been abandoned. However, many wildlife parents leave their babies during the day, often for several hours, while they search for food and water.

These parents are usually not far away and have a watchful eye on their offspring. Also, according to the Humane Society of the United States, even though very small, many young wild animals are fairly independent and can fend quite well for themselves. The message here is that if you see a newborn, leave it alone.

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Tarantulas are often seen meandering across the road. Give them a break.

There are times when your help is needed. These include if the animal was brought to you by a dog or cat, when it is bleeding, has a broken limb or you see a dead parent near by.

In these cases, call for help from a wildlife rehabilitator, the animal shelter, animal control, a wildlife veterinarian, nature center or a state wildlife agency. While waiting for help, line a box with a soft cloth or old T-shirt, use a towel or pillowcase to cover the animal and scoop him up gently and place him in the container.

Do not give any food or water. He could choke. Most injured animals are in shock and food or water could worsen their condition. For questions about wildlife, contact The HSUS Wildlife and Habitat Protection Section at wildlife@hsus.org.

Also from The Humane Society of the United States are these tips for avoiding wildlife on the roadways. Youngsters have not yet learned the dangers of roadways. Small critters to watch for include birds, turtles, raccoons, woodchucks, rabbits and squirrels. Turtles cross the road, ever so slowly, in an effort to find the perfect spot to lay their eggs. If you see a turtle and it is safe to do so, stop and help her to the other side of the road.

HSUS provides these tips for protecting wildlife on the roadway. Scan the road from side to side constantly, watching particularly closely along the shoulders. Dawn and dusk are the times wildlife will most often be out. Slow down at night as many animals are hit just because people drive too fast to be able to stop in time. Lower your dashboard lights at night and you will be better able to see your headlights reflected in the eyes of animals in time to slow down or stop. Animals you approach on the road will often be confused and will not immediately leave the roadway. Give them time. Also, be aware that if you see one animal on or near the roadway, there will most likely be others close by. Visit the HSUS Web site and find the "Safe Passage for Wildlife" page which gives information about what to do if you injure an animal.

The front-page story in the Payson Roundup on April 14 reminds us of the urgent need to keep our dogs and outdoor cats up to date on their rabies shots. Five dogs were euthanized and another is in quarantine for six months because they fought with a mountain lion that turned out to be rabid.

A rabies vaccination is one of the most important things we can do for our pets, along with spaying and neutering naturally. An animal with rabies does not live long, which is why our forests are not full of them.

But one contact with a rabid animal means a horrible death for our pet. It is the least we can do. Check your pet's shot records today before it is too late.

If your pet does not have a current rabies shot and he comes in contact with a rabid animal or is bitten by a wild animal, animal control officers have no option except to have the pet euthanized or quarantined for six months at your expense. This painful experience is so easy to avoid.

This is the time of year when we like to be out hiking and exploring with our dogs. Beyond rabies, they need to be current with all shots. Schedule a visit with your veterinarian today.

Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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