What do you if you come upon a young animal you think might be abandoned?
Shelter Island Animal Control Officer Beau Payne said he hears frequently from callers who begin by saying they’ve found a baby animal and want to know what to do to help it.
Mr. Payne suggests following recent guidelines from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
First, the DEC cautions against any interaction with newborn fawns and other wildlife.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos suggests people should “enjoy their encounter, but keep it brief, maintain some distance, and not attempt to touch the animal.
In the spring, the commissioner said, it’s not uncommon to see a young bird rabbit in a yard or garden that seems abandoned. Finding a deer fawn lying alone is also not unusual.
“Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance,” Mr. Seggos said. “However, human interaction typically does more damage than good.”
Does nurse their fawns three or four times a day, the DEC noted in a press release, and the other times keep their distance from their young. The reason is to limit the chances a predator will attack does when they’re with their young. The protective coloring and stillness of the young deer help them to avoid detection by predators and people.
“By the end of its second week, a fawn begins to move about and spend more time with the doe,” the DEC reported. “It also begins to eat grass and leaves. At about 10 weeks of age, fawns are no longer dependent on milk, although they continue to nurse occasionally into the fall. During August, deer begin to grow their winter coats and fawns lose their spots.”
The DEC’s slogan for any encounter with wildlife is: “If You Care, Leave It There.”
Mr. Payne said that “those who absolutely feel the animal needs assistance, I encourage callers to contact the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center at (631)728-4200.
He also noted that if there is immediate attention required, to call his office at (631) 749-5771 or police headquarters at (631) 749-0600.