Young animals rarely abandoned; sick animals may be able to transmit disease
MADISON – White-tailed deer fawns are starting to be seen in Wisconsin, and state wildlife officials and conservation wardens are starting to be inundated with calls from people who are concerned about an “abandoned” fawn.
“Fawns left alone in the woods are not abandoned,” says Keith Warnke, deer and bear ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “When fawns are born they have very little scent to them, and does intentionally leave them alone as a way of protecting them from predators. The mother is almost always nearby and keeping an eye on the fawn. She returns to the fawn to nurse when she feels it is safe. The best thing people can do if they come across a fawn in the woods is to go away and leave it alone.”
State wildlife and health officials say the same is true for almost all young wildlife seen in the wild. Most wildlife species will leave their young unattended for periods of time so they can go feed or find food to bring back.
“Closely approaching or contacting wild animals presents a risk of injury to humans and the animal. For that reason, the best and safest policy for people and animals is to leave them alone,” Warnke said.
People should avoid contact with all wild animals, but especially those acting abnormally, whether they appear sick or unusually friendly. While unlikely, it is possible for sick wild animals to transmit some illnesses, including rabies, to humans.
State wildlife health officials say skunks and bats are the most likely species to carry rabies in Wisconsin, although dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes and even livestock have been infected. People should keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for dogs, cats, and ferrets.
If a person is bitten by a bat, woodchuck, skunk, raccoon, fox or coyote, all of which can carry rabies, it's important to safely capture or kill the animal without injuring the brain. Brain tissue can be analyzed to determine whether or not the animal had rabies. Most domestic animals can simply be observed by a veterinarian and do not need to be tested in order to rule out rabies. Treatment for a rabies exposure can prevent the disease if initiated before symptoms occur.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke – - (608) 264-6023