Springtime’s Wildlife Babies – Leave Them Alone
The nests are getting crowded as the eggs hatch and spring's new arrivals (photo above) start exploring the great outdoors (photo below). It's a yearly event. That means you might see a young bird, all by itself, on the ground. That is part of the "growing up" routine that the mom and dad birds put the youngsters through. If you touch them and add your human scent to the animal, there is a huge possibility that they won't be brought back by the older birds. And if you take it to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office, they will not accept it because the animal cannot be rehabilitated.
That advice is even more important with deer, elk, moose and other animals. Included in the annual warning is the danger of spreading disease. People can get hemorrhagic diseases from baby ground squirrels, raccoons and rabbits. Also, fawns and calves can quickly become habituated to people and don't want to return to the wild. Montana has laws against possessing an animal taken from the wild.
On the other hand, if you see obviously sick or injured wild animals, contact the authorities. Recently, a rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus has been reported around the US. And, bats seen during the day is also unusual enough to contact Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
So, leave the animal there, keep your distance and go on your way. Oh, and keep your dog under control. The baby animals don't the extra stress. If a wild animal is harassed by a dog, you can be cited.
One last tip - if you're out in the woods, carry bear spray. Recently an aggressive black bear was seen just south of Hamilton. That just underscores the fact that bears are never that far away. And when you're on your favorite trail, it might be some bruin's favorite trail, too. Bear spray works, if you know how to use it properly. Be prepared. And enjoy the natural sights around you. You're lucky to be here.