Leave young wildlife alone--help keep Colorado's wildlife wild
April 21, 2021
How can you help the next generation of young wildlife? Leave them alone. If you see an injured animal, call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office. Do not approach, move or feed the animal.
Each spring, Colorado welcomes an abundance of new young wildlife across the state. As wildlife becomes more visible in backyards, trails and open spaces, CPW and local parks receive an increase of office visits and calls from concerned people who report they "rescued" young wildlife that appeared "abandoned" by adult animals.
Although reports are made with good intentions, people routinely orphan young wildlife by essentially kidnapping them and bringing them to CPW offices. Deer, elk, and pronghorn mothers hide their young for long periods of time while foraging. Young that have been removed cannot be successfully returned to the wild, as the mother will not continue searching for a missing baby or will reject it because it was handled by humans and may no longer smell like her baby. People that feed, touch or remove wildlife from their natural environment are actually causing them harm and may even cause the death of that animal.
"What humans might misinterpret as 'abandonment' is actually wild animals living a healthy, wild life," said CPW District Wildlife Manager Katie Doyle. "Young wildlife are frequently left alone in a safe location while adult animals search for food. It's also common for baby birds to sit outside of their nest as they grow bigger and learn to fly. Humans should not approach baby wild animals, because the mother is probably nearby and might attack if she thinks her young are in danger."
Spring can be a particularly sensitive time for wildlife since many species are nesting, having their young or coming out of hibernation. CPW recommends people give young wildlife space, keep dogs leashed when enjoying dog-friendly trails and do not feed or remove young animals from their natural habitat.
"Wild animals have complex digestive systems and some human food is toxic to animals," said Karen Fox, CPW wildlife pathologist. "Last year, we saw an increase in reports of people feeding animals by their homes and the animals becoming sick or aggressive. We want to remind people that under Colorado law, feeding wildlife is illegal because it puts an animal's health and safety in danger."
Colorado provides a diverse and robust wildlife ecosystem. CPW encourages people outdoors to enjoy wildlife from a safe distance and treasure the growing natural wilderness that surrounds us.
For more information on how to live in harmony with wildlife, read CPW's online resources: