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Public Encouraged to Avoid ‘Rescuing’ Young Wildlife

White-tailed deer fawns are among young wildlife that should be left alone when encountered in the wild /US Fish and Wildlife Service photo


DNREC Reminder to Help Their Survival: ‘If You Care, Leave Them There’

Look but don’t touch, much less disturb – and even then, just a quick glance and be on your way – that’s the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s message to Delawareans who are likely to see young wildlife in their backyards or almost anywhere in the outdoors this time of year. DNREC wants the public to be aware that the best thing to do when encountering young wildlife of any species is to leave the animals alone, since their mothers are usually nearby monitoring them. Taking or “rescuing” a young wild animal from the wild almost inevitably means that it will not survive.

Thus, the reminder from DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife to help young wildlife survive: “If you care, leave them there.” While some young animals may appear to be abandoned, most often they are not, with their mothers often in close proximity waiting for the person who “discovered” them to move on. Many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, will leave their young to forage for food, returning a few times a day, trusting their young’s natural instinct to lie quietly so as not to be detected by predators.

Handling or removing wildlife can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. Precautions to take with wild animals young and old include:

  • If you see a young wild animal alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, but know that could take several hours.
  • Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain.
  • Wild animals can carry parasites such as fleas and ticks or diseases such as rabies that can affect you or your pets.
  • Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep a live wild animal in Delaware.

For more help in trying to determine if a young wild animal is orphaned or injured, or is simply exhibiting normal behavior instead of needing to be rescued, contact the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators.

To determine the appropriate course of action if a young wild animal appears injured or if you are certain its parent is dead, contact the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Section during business hours Monday through Friday at 302-739-9912, or at 800-523-3336 after hours and on weekends.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti,; Nikki Lavoie,