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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

May 11, 2005

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795


(05/57) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today reminded New Jersey residents to refrain from approaching wildlife during the spring and summer months, the most active period for young animals. Because of the increased visibility of these animals, people are encouraged to exercise discretion and keep contact with wildlife to a minimum, allowing the animals to grow in an undisturbed environment.

"During the spring and early summer, the lives of many young animals are disrupted. Many well intentioned people pick up young wildlife thinking that the animal may be injured or abandoned," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Human intervention is usually unnecessary and can be detrimental to the development of the natural survival instinct."

Perceived acts of kindness often result in tragedy for young wildlife taken from their homes. Instead of being left to learn how to survive, they are denied critical learning experiences. Animals may become attached to or "imprinted" on their human caregivers, causing them to lose their natural instincts and become more susceptible to predation or injury as they mature. In most cases, they cannot be returned to the wild.

"An animal's best chance of survival is with its parents," said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Martin J. McHugh. "Though a lone animal may look vulnerable, it is often using its natural instincts to hide and protect itself until the parents return from foraging for food and is not in need of outside help."

Human scents such as perfume, deodorant, and detergent can also be transferred to an animal during contact, which can discourage a parent from accepting it back or potentially attract predators that associate human scent with food.

Handling wild animals and bringing them into the home also 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.

Handling any type of wildlife demands the utmost caution as all animals will attempt to defend themselves from perceived danger. In addition, it is against the law to take animals from the wild and keep them as pets.

If you do find a wild animal that is injured, please call the nearest wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed and inspected by DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife to handle wildlife emergencies. For a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, visit DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife web site at:




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Last Updated: May 11, 2005