AUSTIN, Texas - As temperatures heat up and more Central Texans venture outdoors, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) wants to remind everyone to not touch the wildlife.
Wildlife may appear in your backyard, neighborhood or the surrounding areas as sunny weather returns. Species including birds, deer and snakes are active during this time of year and their young can be mistaken as abandoned. TPWD experts caution against lending a hand.
TPWD says baby birds and deer fawns are most commonly picked up by citizens looking to help. However, it is important to note that many human-animal encounters are unnecessary and can even be detrimental to the wildlife involved.
Deer fawning season begins in early to mid-May, says TPWD. A newborn fawn is usually hidden from predators thanks to its mottled coat and its mothers care. As they mature, they shed their coats for a more adult color, causing them to catch the eye. A fawn can be left for hours at a time as it's mother searches for food. During their waiting, fawns may be seen lying down alone in brushy areas. Many may interfere with the fawn, thinking it has been abandoned, but this rarely the case.
All young animal should be left alone unless it is obviously injured.
TPWD advises those concerned about wildlife they spot, to take some time to observe the animal from a distance before making a decision. Staying too close could deter the mother from returning. Interfering too soon may do more harm than good.
These same principles should be applied to young birds who may be found out of their nest but cannot fly. If the bird's eyes are open, it has feathers and is hopping around, mom and dad are likely nearby, according to TPWD. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
Well-meaning citizens also often pick up various turtle species trying to cross the road. TPWD says this sis perfectly harmless if it can be done safely. Biologists ask that the public not take these animals home with the intention of gaining a new pet. Turtles are wild animals and must remain in the wild to stay healthy.
If you find an injured or sick wild animal, TPWD encourages citizens to contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.
Please note that TPWD staff advise the public not to handle or attempt to transport injured, sick or orphaned wildlife. Learn more about what to do upon encountering orphaned or injured wildlife, and how to contact rehabilitators on the TPWD Wildlife Division website.
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