Watching wildlife is enjoyable, especially when young animals and birds appear in spring. But it’s best to keep your distance, says the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).
Picking up young wildlife can do more harm than good, and it’s also against the law, advises the PGC.
When people see young animals and birds alone, they often mistakenly assume these animals are helpless and lost, in trouble or needing to be rescued. Bringing young wildlife into a human environment often results in permanent separation from their mothers and a sad ending for the animal or bird, it’s explained.
Handling wildlife could also pose a threat to people involved. Wild animals can transmit disease and angry wildlife can pose significant dangers.
Biologists and wildlife scientists encourage wildlife watchers to respect the behavior of animals in the spring and early summer, and to resist the urge to assist wildlife in ways that may be harmful. This is particularly noted for deer fawns and baby birds that may have fallen out of a nest.
Here are some helpful tips from the PGC:
*Deer nurse their young at different times during the day and often leave their young alone for long periods of time. These animals are not lost. Their mother knows where they are and will return.
*Young birds on the ground may have left the nest, but their parents will still feed them.
*Young animals such as fox, opossum and raccoons will often follow their mother. The mother of a wildlife youngster is usually nearby, but just out of sight to a person happening upon it.
*Animals that act sick can carry rabies, parasites or other harmful diseases. Do not handle them, even though they don’t show symptoms, healthy-looking raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats may also be carriers of the deadly rabies virus.
*Many wildlife species will not feed or care for their young when people are close by. Obey signs that restrict access to wildlife nesting areas, including hiking trails that may be temporarily closed.
*Keep domestic pets indoors, leashed or fenced in. Dogs and cats kill many baby animals each year.
*Avoid projects that remove trees, shrubs and dead snags that contain nests during the spring and summer.
Flying Trout Thief
A buddy of mine took his 12-year old son trout fishing last week along the Jordan Creek by Home Depot in Whitehall. While fishing he noticed a great blue heron standing in shallow water on the opposite side of the stream. After a couple casts, my buddy latched onto a 13-inch trout that he swung onto shore, only to discover the fish swallowed the hook so he was in the process of removing it. At the same time his son was having trouble with his fishing gear so he stopped his effort and when to assist his nearby son. When he did, the heron flew over and grabbed his trout which was still hooked, and took off. Only problem was, it also took flight with his line, ultra-light rod and reel attached. My buddy could hear the drag releasing line because of the weight of his rig as it went airborne. The heron flew about 30 yards away before the hook dislodged and his rig dropped to the ground. Shortly thereafter, the heron returned to its original spot across the creek, possibly waiting to steal another trout from my friend.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.