Every spring park rangers and state wildlife agencies nationwide are inundated with calls from would-be good Samaritans who encounter baby wild animals ranging from birds, squirrels, and rabbits to racoons, foxes, bears, deer, and even moose. The story is tired. Noble hearted and naïve do-gooders venture shallow into their local wooded areas and happen across a seemingly abandoned baby wild animal in desperate need of rescue (bro, make sure you get the shot of me giving it a drink from my water bottle) from like, the wild, or something.
A wave of articles published today spanning the nation from Pennsylvania and North Carolina to Utah in which local wildlife authorities politely remind (as they pull their own hair out in agony) and discourage people from contacting any wild animal for any reason, especially the babies. It is a completely normal and natural behavior for mothers in many animal species to leave their offspring unattended for periods of time lasting several hours or more.
Falyn Owens, an extension biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission told Citizen Times “most young animals spend a lot of time on their own, even before they appear able to fend for themselves. When the mother returns, sometimes many hours later, she expects to find her young near where she left them.”
Aside from the rational that taking or interacting with the baby can prevent its mother from returning to find and care for it, wild animals are dangerous. Mother bears and moose are extremely protective and will aggressively attack people to defend their offspring. Additionally, many wild animals carry dangerous diseases like salmonella and rabies as well as parasites like ticks, fleas, and lice. Furthermore, most states have laws with stiff civil penalties for people who contact with wild animals without the proper credentials or authorization. Wild babies are better off left alone.
Go ahead and put the water bottle (and your phone) down Jerry, the baby moose isn’t going to die of de-hydration no matter how thirsty you think it looks.