BY MICHAEL HUMMERT
ERATH COUNTY GAME WARDEN
With early summer upon us, we are entering the time of year that baby animals are born. I wanted to put together a quick note of what to do when you come across injured or possibly orphaned wildlife.
I know it is human nature to want to take in injured or orphaned wildlife. This is not only illegal, but it can be harmful to wildlife as well.
This time of year, it is not uncommon for me to receive multiple phone calls every day regarding wildlife that has been injured or potentially orphaned. Most calls are for fawns and birds. When it comes to fawns, 99% of the time an “orphaned” fawn is not really orphaned. Their mothers will leave them in an area they feel is safe from predators while they go out and feed during the day.
The mothers will return for the fawns after dark. Sometimes this results in fawns being found near homes, flower beds, and businesses. It is always best to leave the fawns alone, unless they are in obvious distress or the mother has been killed. Only then should there be intervention by humans, specifically by people trained to handle wildlife.
Young birds are well known for trying to fly and leave the nest before they are completely able. If a young bird is found on the ground, there are a couple of options. If you know where the nest is, you can pick up the bird and place it in or near the nest. The other option is to leave the bird on the ground near the nest, and the mother will come check on the baby.
I also frequently receive calls about owls or hawks that appear to be injured. Raptors will sometimes fly into limbs, power lines, or buildings. After doing this, they will essentially stun themselves for several hours. They may sit on the ground and appear to not want to fly. It is always best to leave them where they are and just give them time. Most of the time the birds are able to fly off on their own after they regain their senses, which may take several hours.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has rehabilitators authorized to take care of injured or orphaned wildlife. A list of rehabilitators can be found at https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/rehab/list/. People who are found to be in possession of wildlife, including fawns, without proper permits can face fines up to $500. Most birds are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, making the unlawful possession of protected birds (including owls and hawks) a federal offense.
People who are found to be in possession of wildlife, including fawns, without proper permits can face fines up to $500. Most birds are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, making the unlawful possession of protected birds (including owls and hawks) a federal offense.