OKLAHOMA CITY – In the spring, you might find young wildlife hiding in the grass.
Wildlife officials warn that if you find a fawn in the grass, leave it alone because it is likely not in danger. This year, they say it is even more important to leave fawns alone due to the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease.
The State Veterinarian with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has issued an order to stop all movement of elk and deer within the state until May 24. When it comes to deer and elk fawns, the order prohibits anyone from taking these animals to a wildlife rehabilitation facility for any reason.
Each year, people often make incorrect assumptions when they come across young wildlife.
"People should keep their interactions with wildlife to a minimum," said Wildlife Diversity Senior Biologist Mark Howery with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Normal wildlife behavior is often misinterpreted as something abnormal by well-meaning people, and it usually does more harm than good when people intervene."
Officials say many animals try to hide their young and tend to them periodically throughout the day. They leave them so they won't attract the attention of predators.
"Every spring, we receive many calls from people who have found a young animal hiding in the grass, or some other animal that they think might need help," Howery said. "People are often inclined to intervene, but they should refrain."
From May through July, young birds are often found on the ground. Wildlife experts say it is normal for birds to lead their chicks out of the nest to hide them from predators.
If a baby bird is found featherless or only has light down, try to put it back in its nest. Officials say birds will not be scared of human scent.
Young rabbits, squirrels and opossums are able to fend for themselves if they are furred and their eyes are open. It is best to leave them alone and keep pets away from them.
"Before anyone attempts to help, they should make sure a young animal truly has been abandoned or is really injured," Howery said.
When an injury is apparent, call a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions.
If you suspect abandonment, keep an eye on the situation. The parents will likely show up only a few times a day, usually around dusk and dawn.