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Nature Notebook – Does that wildlife baby need help?

What are the warning signs that someone may become an animal kidnapper?

  • A belief that animal mothers care for their offspring every minute of every day.
  • A belief in the myth that animal mothers reject babies that have been touched by humans.
  • An overwhelming urge to save a baby.
  • An incomplete knowledge of wildlife biology and needs.

Every spring nature centers and wildlife rehabilitators are overwhelmed by well-intentioned animal kidnappers. These kidnappers believe they are rescuing orphaned animal babies. However, most of the time these babies are not truly babies or not truly abandoned.

An independent animal does not mean a fully-grown animal. Four-inch long rabbits and quarter-sized turtles are fully capable of caring for themselves…in the place they grew up in. Take them out of that area and they won’t know where food or shelter is.

Many animal moms leave their young alone in nests or carefully chosen safe spots. They only visit them two or three times a day. The small amount of contact reduces the babies’ chances of acquiring a scent that a predator could discover. Take them away from their best teacher (mom) and they will have an exceptionally challenging time learning how to forage or hunt and survive.

Don’t be an animal kidnapper! Call for help FIRST. You can find phone numbers for licensed wildlife rehabilitators on the State of Michigan website at Sarett Nature Center is not a licensed rehabilitation center and cannot take in animals.