The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 18, 2013

Bob Garrett's No Child Left Indoors series: Just let wild animals be


This experience reminded that this is the time of the year when many of us, including kids, are hopefully getting outside as much as possible. There's a high probability that as more-and-more of us subscribe to the notion that no child should be left indoors, that we will end up "bumping into a babe in the woods." So here's a quick guide on what to do if and when you or a family member encounters a baby animal in the wild.

First: No, you can't keep it. Do yourself and your family a favor and steer clear of an unfriendly visit from your local Wildlife Conservation Officer. Chances are if you call our "friends in green" they will tell you to return the baby animal to where you found it. If it's endangered or a protected bird or animal and it has been injured they may help you locate a licensed rehabilitator. But keep in mind, removing wild animals from their environment is illegal and the birds and animals almost always die while in captivity.

To parents: If your well-meaning children bring home a baby animal or if your dog or cat brings in a baby rabbit or other animal, immediately try to return it to where it might have come from. Don't feed it; don't try to nurse it back to health. It will very likely die. Wild animals always do best when they're allowed to be wild.

In a situation such as the one described in the previous paragraph; parents, scout leaders and other folks who spend time with children will find themselves in a classic teachable moment. There are rules of nature that are as old as time itself. Mother Nature has her own plan of how to handle excess and weak animals and how to provide food for other wildlife. This is by no means cruel, but is the great circle of life. This is the balance of nature and it is the way it was meant to be. Don't mess with Mother Nature.

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