This is the time of year when wildlife give birth to their young. The Colorado Division of Wildlife advises people not to approach, touch or handle young animals.
"We know that people are trying to be helpful, but young animals are best cared for by their own parents," said Tony Gurzick, southwest assistant regional manager for the DOW. "The best thing people can do is to leave young wildlife alone."
During spring and early summer, people often see young animals that appear to be alone in the forest, in backyards or along the sides of roads.
"The animals have not been abandoned. Young animals are often left alone to allow the mother to feed, to help them avoid predators and to learn how to live in the wild," Gurzick explained.
Deer provide a good example of how wildlife adapts behaviors to help them survive. Young fawns have no scent and are born with speckled coats that provide a natural camouflage. These two factors help them avoid being found by predators. When the mother doe senses a predator might be near it moves away from its young. Many other animals use similar techniques.
Young birds often fall out of their nests or are pushed out of nests by parents to encourage them to fly, explained Chad Morgan, a district wildlife manager in the Greeley area. Young birds should not be touched. An exception can be made if a bird can be placed quickly back into its nest. But the nest must be easily accessible, Morgan said.
"If a young bird is on the ground it will quickly learn to fly," Morgan said. "It's best to let nature take its course."
People also need to keep their pets under control. In the woods, dogs–acting on their natural predator instincts-can find animals and attack them. The stress of being attacked often is fatal for young animals unable to defend themselves.
In neighborhoods and backyards cats are adept at finding eggs and young birds. Cats are pets–but they're also predators. Many studies show that cats are damaging the songbird population. The DOW asks that people not allow their cats to roam free.
Except for what's put in birdfeeders, people should not provide any type of food for wildlife. Providing food causes animals to bunch up in small areas which can make them vulnerable to diseases and predation. If animals become accustomed to being fed in one area they will act aggressively to protect the food source and that can pose a danger to humans and pets. Wild animals also should not eat pet food or human food.
People also need to know that not all newborn animals will survive. "In the case of all wildlife, we have to understand that mortality is part of the natural cycle," Gurzick said.
If you see a young animal, admire its beauty from a distance and then move on quietly. Talk to youngsters and others about this topic who might not be familiar with wildlife.
If you have any questions, call a local DOW office.