With spring turning to summer and newborn wildlife beginning to appear, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is urging the public to resist the temptation to pick up young animals, like fawns, even if they appear sick or in need of help. At the height of the season, FWP can receive several calls a day about apparently abandoned fawns, said Libby-based FWP Biologist Tonya Chilton-Radandt. But things aren’t always as they appear, she said. “Generally, the adult is quite close, just not as visible”, Chilton-Radandt said. Left alone, a fawn might have a chance in the wild. Chilton-Radandt says it’s a simple message, “If you care, leave them there”.
“Even if folks bring an animal to us, we will likely ask them to take it back where they found it”, Chilton-Radandt said. Because of concerns about diseases like chronic wasting disease, FWP does not accept deer and will not take them to a rehabilitation facility. If a fawn is brought to an FWP office and cannot be returned to its original location, it will be euthanized. It is illegal to possess and care for live animals taken from the wild (MCA 87-4-801).
Birds are also better off left alone. Once young birds can move around, they spend more time exploring the areas outside their nest and can fall from their perches. However, this is natural; the young birds can use this time to gain strength and learn where and how to find food. The parents often continue to care for their young even on the ground, so it is best to leave them there and accessible to the adults.
FWP also urges dog owners to keep their pets under control at all times to prevent unnecessary dog attacks on vulnerable young animals. Under SB 104, dog owners can be issued a citation for allowing dogs to harass, chase, or kill wildlife.