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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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May 14, 2004

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994


(04/50) Trenton -- As New Jersey's wildlife becomes more active during warmer weather, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell urges New Jersey residents who encounter young wildlife to leave them in the wild unless the animals are injured.

"Many young animals are removed from the wild during spring and early summer by otherwise well-intentioned people who mistakenly assume the babies were abandoned and attempt to save them," Campbell said. "Most of the time, the young animal is waiting for a parent to return from foraging or is using its natural instincts to hide and protect itself."

Potential acts of kindness can result in tragedy. Young animals unnecessarily taken into captivity often become attached to their caregivers, and lose their natural instincts and the ability to survive in the wild.

Handling wild animals and bringing them into the home poses a health risk for both people and pets. Wildlife can transmit life-threatening diseases such as rabies and can carry parasites such as roundworms, lice, fleas and ticks.

In addition, it is against the law to take animals from the wild and keep them as pets. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators are authorized to hold wildlife in captivity.

"We encourage residents to enjoy watching New Jersey's beautiful wildlife in their natural habitats, and to remember that most wild animals do not need or want any assistance from people," Commissioner Campbell said.

Citizens who find an injured animal or encounter young wildlife that remained with their mother after she died should contact the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife at (609) 292-2965 or visit for information on the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center.




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