Orphans.jpgIt happens every year, my colleagues and I receive calls from well-intentioned citizens who have found orphaned (or what they believe to be orphaned) wildlife. In most cases (especially deer, where the mother is probably watching), the best option is to return the animal(s) to the place where you found it, and let "nature take its course." But baby animals are "cute" and it seems cruel to just let them die. Most people have a hard time doing that and, put a 4-year old grandson asking "why," and it really gets tough. For those of us who are not good at saying “no”, but may not wish to be stuck bottle-feeding baby squirrels, there is a possible answer; Outdoors Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, provides a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators (rehabbers).

A couple of warnings before you jump out of the car to rescue that baby animal: 1) Most rehabilitators are not eligible to accept white-tailed deer due to the large caging requirements; and 2) Most permitted rehabilitators are not able to accept foxes, coyotes, skunks, bats, raccoons, or feral pigs. To some hardcore wildlife ecologist, making use of a rehabilitation service may be a cop out, but to others, like me perhaps, it is a way to come across to the public as a more approachable. Will the successful rearing of one more baby brown thrasher make a significant difference in the thrasher population, probably not, but the positive experience of the person doing the rescue may help win another supporter for wildlife conservation.


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