Orphaned baby animals: Are they really abandoned?

Use caution before intervening

Published On: Jun 25 2012 04:52:08 PM EDT
cat kitten
ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -

The Michigan Humane Society Wildlife Department, located at the MHS Rochester Hills Center for Animal Care, is reporting a high number of young wildlife being brought in for care. MHS is asking residents to exercise caution before intervening with what may appear to be abandoned baby or young animals they come across, as the animal may not actually be orphaned.

However well-intentioned, though it may appear that baby animals such as birds, ducks, rabbits or fawns are abandoned, most of the time the mother is nearby. It is normal for many species to leave their young unattended for hours at a time. For example, mother deer leave their fawns for up to eight hours before returning to nurse. Fawns do not carry a scent, so by watching her young from a distance, a mother deer helps keep her scent from attracting predators to them. Another example are baby birds, who typically do not fly as soon as they leave the nest, and require a few days on the ground to build up their flight muscles.

When baby animals are removed from their mother and their habitat, they often cannot survive. In general, MHS recommends only moving animals if they are in immediate peril.

Before intervening or for more information, please contact either your local Michigan Department of Natural Resources office, or the DNR’s Wildlife Department at (517) 373-1263. You can also contact the MHS Wildlife Department at (248) 852-7420, ext. 224.