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Game and Fish Department issues reminder to leave newborn wildlife alone, keep distance

Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous, the department states.

A spring baby bison in Yellowstone National Park. (Shutterstock)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is urging people who come across young animals to leave newborn wildlife alone and keep a distance.

“Newborn wildlife is one of the best parts of springtime in Wyoming, but please view animals from a distance and do not pet or pick them up,” said Doug Brimeyer, Game and Fish deputy chief of wildlife. “With all animals, the first few weeks of life are the most critical in determining their survival and interference from humans can put their lives at risk.”

Most mammals hide their young and return periodically to nurse. People who find young animals without a mother nearby often assume the newborns have been abandoned, but this is almost never the case, according to a news release from the department. 

“The mother knows where her young are and will almost certainly return to care for them,” Brimeyer said.

Young birds sometimes fall out of or leave their nests before they are able to fly. The parents continue to care for the young bird while it is on the ground, bringing food and trying to protect the little one while it is in this vulnerable situation.

Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous. A mother bear, bison, moose and even deer will display aggressive behavior when humans get close to its young. Leave the area immediately if you encounter aggressive wildlife, the release states

“The best option for people who come across newborn wildlife is to leave them alone,” Brimeyer said. “In short, wildlife don’t need your help; they have been rearing young just fine for centuries.”

Per the release, if children bring home a wild “orphan,” immediately return it to the exact spot it was found. In the rare instance when a fawn or other newborn is found and the mother is known to be dead, contact the nearest game warden, biologist or Game and Fish Regional Office; do not attempt to capture these animals yourself.

State and federal laws forbid possession of game and many non-game animals, so adopting newborn wildlife is illegal. Citations can be issued for possession of newborn wildlife, with a possible penalty of up to a $1,000 fine.