How to Help a Wild Animal in Need: Expert Advice
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Recent incidents in Yellowstone National Park serve as a reminder that human-animal interactions can have negative consequences for both parties involved. The park’s report for the month of May highlighted two unfortunate incidents: a newborn elk taken by park visitors and a newborn bison calf pushed into a road. These encounters ended tragically for the animals. As warmer weather approaches and more people are outdoors, it’s crucial to know how to handle wildlife encounters. We reached out to wildlife experts, David Mijezewski of the National Wildlife Federation and Adam McCurdy of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, to provide their insights on the matter.
Here’s what they had to say:
Is it safe to get close to any wild animal, even a small one?
According to Mijezewski, it’s almost never a good idea to approach any wild animal, regardless of its size. Animals can harm humans unintentionally as they don’t perceive our actions as assistance. Mijezewski warns that trying to intervene can result in injury, such as bites, scratches, or stings. Additionally, repeated interactions with humans might encourage animals to view them as a food source, disrupting their natural behavior and potentially leading to their demise.
Should we help baby animals if we come across them in the wild?
McCurdy advises that in most cases, especially when it comes to baby animals, it’s best to leave them alone. Mother animals, like deer, often leave their offspring briefly to divert potential predators. Disturbing this process can pose risks to both the young animal and the person attempting to help. Mijezewski emphasizes that baby animals generally don’t need human intervention.
Why do people feel inclined to assist animals?
McCurdy acknowledges that many people have a natural inclination to help animals, driven by empathy and compassion. However, he urges individuals to exercise caution and refrain from unnecessary interactions, like taking selfies. Mijezewski adds that in such situations, it’s essential to prioritize the welfare and well-being of the wildlife.
What should you do if you believe an animal requires assistance?
Both Mijezewski and McCurdy advise contacting experts who are trained to evaluate and handle wildlife. They suggest reaching out to local wildlife rehabilitation groups, state wildlife hotlines, ranger stations, or local animal control or law enforcement agencies. These professionals have the expertise to navigate the situation safely and effectively.
Q: Can I help a wild animal if I believe it’s injured?
A: It’s best to contact wildlife experts to assess the situation and provide appropriate assistance.
Q: Are there any exceptions where human intervention is necessary?
A: While rare, there may be cases where human intervention is unavoidable, such as when an animal is trapped or severely injured. In these situations, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance.
Q: How can I prevent attracting wild animals to my vicinity?
A: Avoid leaving food or garbage accessible to wildlife, as it may encourage their presence. Keep a safe distance and observe animals from afar.
Q: Is it ever acceptable to take a wild animal home as a pet?
A: No, it is illegal and unethical to take a wild animal from its natural habitat as a pet. Wild animals belong in their ecosystem and require specialized care that humans cannot provide.
Q: What should I do if I encounter a potentially dangerous animal?
A: Stay calm, back away slowly, and give the animal space to move without feeling threatened. Do not turn your back or run, as this may trigger their predatory instincts.
Remember, wildlife encounters should always prioritize the well-being of the animal and our own safety. It’s crucial to respect nature and act responsibly to ensure the preservation of these incredible creatures.
This article was originally published on Weather.com and covers breaking news and features related to weather, space, climate change, the environment, and everything in between. The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on weather news, the environment, and the importance of science in our lives. Please note that this story does not represent the position of our parent company, IBM.