THE PUBLIC TO ENJOY YOUNG WILDLIFE FROM A DISTANCE
(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: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/rehablst.htm