April 19, 2023

PHOENIX — With the arrival of warmer spring weather, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) once again is advising the public to leave baby wildlife alone. 

While it might be difficult to resist the urge to help seemingly abandoned animals, including newly hatched birds and baby rabbits, a parent is likely nearby and will return once humans have left the area.

Sadly, once young animals have been removed from the wild, some species —like elk calves and deer fawns — may have to be euthanized because they cannot be released back into their natural habitat. Zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries usually are not viable options, as they often don’t have available space.  

A licensed wildlife rehabilitator should be contacted, however, if an animal is encountered that clearly appears to be sick or injured, is unresponsive or lethargic, has been attacked by a cat or dog, or there is evidence that the parent animal is dead. 

Young wildlife found in a yard or in the field is rarely abandoned. Typically, once the perceived predator (perhaps a dog, cat, or person) leaves the area, one or both parents will return and continue to care for its young.

Baby birds are the most common of young wildlife encountered by the public and removed from the wild. As a reminder, eggs of ground-nesting birds like quail should be left untouched. 

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