June 16, 2010
For immediate release
People Reminded Not to “Rescue” Young Wildlife
Environment, Energy & Forestry
Every spring, biologists with the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division receive calls from people who have “rescued” what seems to be orphaned young wildlife. However, a young animal on its own does not necessarily mean that it has been abandoned.
“Despite their concerns, we need Islanders to understand that in most cases these are not orphaned wildlife,” said Randy Dibblee, a biologist with the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry. “In fact, many species will leave their young unattended, often for several hours or more, while they forage for food. In most cases, the adults are nearby and quite aware of their young, so handling or removing them from their natural environment exposes them to unnecessary stress.”
Dibblee also noted that “rescuing” these young animals violates PEI’s Wildlife Policy, which prohibits people from keeping native wildlife in captivity. He urged Islanders who encounter young birds and mammals to simply leave them alone.
Death by predation and accidents are a natural part of the life cycle that helps to ensure the long-term health of wildlife populations. While young animals can be orphaned, wild creatures produce more young each year than is necessary to maintain a healthy population. Usually, a high birth rate will be balanced by a similar rate of natural mortality thus keeping the population stable and within the bounds of what the environment can sustain.
Dibblee cautioned that people who pick up fledgling birds and young mammals may be risking their own health. Handling wild animals increases the risk of human exposure to bites and pathogens such as parasites, bacteria and viral organisms.
For more information on wildlife in Prince Edward Island, please contact the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry at (902) 368-4683.