You may be tempted to pick up a baby bird or other young wild animal that appears to be on its own, but Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists warn this is not a good idea.
This is the time of year young wildlife can be seen throughout the state, and the department typically receives an increased number of calls and visits from good Samaritans who are trying to do the right thing by "rescuing" baby animals thought to be abandoned.
That can cause more harm than good.
"If you see a baby bird, rabbit, fawn or any young animal on its own, don't assume it's orphaned and in need of your help," says Randy Babb, information and education program manager for the department's Mesa region. "Usually, the parents are not far away. They may be out gathering food, taking a short break from their young, or you may have scared them away. If you remove the baby, then its odds for survival diminish."
For example, baby rabbits, if removed from the wild, will almost certainly die. Newborn rabbits require virtually 24-hour care for any hope of survival, but even then the odds are slim.
Young birds on the ground may be learning to fly or may have fallen from a nest. Birds that have fallen from a nest will not be neglected; the parents will continue to care for them. However, if the young birds are in immediate danger, it is OK to place them back in the nest. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not concern the avian parents.
The best rule of thumb if you see young wildlife on its own is to resist the instinct to help and leave the animal alone.
Humans are often the threat that scares away the adult, so the sooner you vacate the area, the quicker the parent will return to care for its young.