During the fall and early winter of each year I receive countless call from people who ask me to ‘wild up’ wildlife.
Usually when I get this request it involves wildlife that was kept as a pet or pet-like conditions. Wildlife that might have been found orphaned or perceived orphaned in the spring and kept/raised by the finder for the summer, but as it get’s colder and the orphans grow bigger people often are at a loss about what to do next.
I understand people’s need to help and nurture, but there is a huge difference between keeping baby wildlife alive and raising them. Most species of baby wildlife require specie specific care and nutrition to grow up healthy and wild. This you cannot find on Google or learn from a YouTube video.
I just had a young raccoon brought out by animal services. This raccoon was found in a residential neighborhood, approaching people for attention/food. He was clearly hand raised and released. He has no idea how to fend for himself. Human hands have always provided him with food…Luckily in the case of raccoons they usually revert to being wild enough for release after some time in a controlled environment where they can learn to find their own food without having to rely on people etc.
However, many species of wildlife imprint or habituate to humans permanently and will be rendered un-releasable as a result. It is very sad to see waterfowl who are afraid of water, or fawns who freak out when they see another fawn or deer to name a couple of examples.
Every year I get confronted with countless animals that need to be ‘re-programmed’ so that they can maybe someday be released back into the wild. We try to help when we can and educate the people involved to prevent future issues.
It is a violation under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to keep wildlife in your possession for more than 48 hours without a special permit and it is not in the best interest of the wildlife.
Do the right thing and contact your local wildlife custodian or local humane society as soon as possible when you find wildlife in need of help, and not after the novelty of having a wild animal has worn off.
Wildlife belongs in the wild and not in a cage …