CHEYENNE – In the next several weeks, wildlife throughout Wyoming will be bearing young. This is an incredible time of year and is a chance to see newborn elk calves, deer, and pronghorn fawns as well as many others. At the same time, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department urge people who come across young animals to leave newborn wildlife alone and keep a distance.
“Getting a chance to view newborn wildlife is one of the best parts of spring in the West. But please view animals from a distance and do not touch. Spring is an important time in a newborn’s life, and interference from humans can put their life at risk,” said Grant Frost, Wyoming Game and Fish biologist.
Most mammals hide their young and return periodically to nurse. People finding young animals with no adult around often assume the newborns have been abandoned, but this is almost never the case. The mother knows where her young are, and will almost certainly return to care for them.
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 youngster while it is in this vulnerable situation.
Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous. A mother bear, bison, moose or even deer will display very aggressive behavior when humans get close to their young. Leave the area immediately if you encounter aggressive wildlife with young.
“The best option for people who come across newborn wildlife is to respectfully leave them alone,” said Frost.
State and federal laws forbid possession of game and many nongame 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.
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.