Game and Fish: Leave baby wildlife alone!

Updated: Jun. 9, 2017 at 2:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department said just in the past week a deer, bobcat and javelina were rescued after being taken in as pets by Tucson residents.

The AGFD said all three wild animals were illegally captured while young.

"The mule deer buck was taken to the AGFD Wildlife Center in Phoenix for treatment, and then will go to Bearizona in Williams," the AGFD said in a news release. "The bobcat was placed at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, and the javelina moved to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale."

It is illegal and dangerous to take young wildlife and keep them as pets.

"In the majority of cases, it is best to leave all baby wildlife alone," said Raul Vega, regional supervisor of AGFD Tucson. "People's desire to help seemingly abandoned animals can have unintended negative consequences.

"Although it seems humane to 'help' or 'rescue' baby animals perceived to be in need, wildlife reared in captivity by humans -- without the benefit of learning from their parents -- have a greatly reduced chance of survival if they are released back into the wild."

In most instances, baby mammals should be left in place, untouched, unless obviously injured. Although they may appear orphaned, baby mammals are typically left alone by their mother for long periods of time while she forages for food and water.

Baby mammals that are immobile and at immediate risk of injury can be moved, if necessary, to a safe location nearby that provides appropriate cover. The mother will likely find the relocated baby by smell or hearing and continue to provide care, provided that people and pets stay away.

If a well-meaning person separates a baby mammal from its mother, it may result in euthanizing the animal unless a zoo or shelter can take it.

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