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Keep wildlife wild

Posted April 20, 2017

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owl sitting on someone's arm in a classroom
This baby owl was taken to the Fort Worth Animal Shelter by a resident. The owlet was later taken to a wildlife sanctuary to be cared for.

It’s hard for anyone to resist “rescuing” a baby rabbit, bird or other young wildlife that ends up in a local park or a backyard this time of year. When a wild baby seems helpless or abandoned, you want to help. But most wild babies are not helpless or abandoned. In fact, most people who think they are rescuing the infant actually cause more harm.

Every spring, Fort Worth’s Animal Care & Control Division receives infants at the shelter along with numerous phone calls from people who ask animal control officers to rescue newfound young. What many people don’t know is that most newborn wildlife is best left alone. The parents are likely nearby, but you can’t see them. Adult wildlife very rarely abandon their young.

“The single most important thing to learn is to not touch or interfere with the infant wildlife,” said Tim Morton, a veterinarian and assistant director in Code Compliance.

“My team and I urge people to avoid contact with young raccoons, coyotes, bats or skunks because these animals are high-risk carriers of rabies in Texas,” Morton said.

Humans can never be a substitute for wild animal parents, and more often than not, leaving a young animal alone gives it the best chance for survival. Young animals taken into captivity lose their natural instincts and ability to survive in the wild.

If you’re sure that an animal has been orphaned, or if it’s noticeably injured, call or email the city’s customer call center at 817-392-1234.

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