Recently, a well-meaning Islander tried to assist a fawn that had apparently been separated from its mother.
Unfortunately, urging the fawn toward the doe led the young deer to run into the road where it was struck by a car.
This is a sad but not uncommon result when humans try to intervene to help young wildlife. Especially in an environment like Shelter Island, where residents live in close proximity to nature, caring individuals may be tempted to lend a hand if they see a young animal injured or possibly abandoned.
But in 99 percent of the cases, said Animal Control Officer Beau Payne, “it’s best to leave it alone — it ultimately winds up pretty poorly.”
“I know it seems kind of cruel,” Officer Payne explained, “but the right thing to do is to let nature take its course. Intervening can cause more damage, consuming resources and detracting from responding to more pressing needs.”
Mr. Payne’s advice is backed up by a new release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, excerpted below:
“IF YOU CARE…LEAVE THEM THERE…
“When people with no knowledge or experience attempt to handle or raise wildlife, these well-meaning acts of kindness tend to have the opposite result. Many of the animals that are “rescued” soon die despite their best efforts. Even if they do survive, mishandled wild animals don’t learn normal wild animal behavior. Inappropriate care given to young wildlife often results in abnormal attachment to humans. After release, some return to places where people live, only to be attacked by domestic animals or to be hit by cars. Some become nuisances getting into stored food, trash cans, or dwellings. People have also been injured by tamed wildlife. Further, they may be thrust as unwelcome intruders into the home range of another member of their species.
“DO NOT consider young wildlife as possible pets. Besides being illegal, wild animals are not well suited for life in captivity. Plus, they may carry diseases that can be given to people. Resist the temptation to take them out of the wild.”