SPRINGFIELD, IL – With summer’s arrival, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds everyone to leave baby birds and wild animals alone. During the breeding season, well-meaning people often rescue birds and animals they believe have been orphaned or abandoned. In nearly all cases, the birds and animals are unnecessarily taken from the wild. Often, parents are still feeding their young but will not show themselves if people are present.
The Illinois Wildlife Code provides legal protection for Illinois wildlife. It is against the law to keep wild animals as pets, or to raise wild animals believed to be abandoned. If you have questions, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area. To learn more about wildlife conflicts and how you can keep yourself, your pets, and wildlife safe, visit the Living with Wildlife in Illinois website at: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/
All wild birds except the non-native rock pigeon, European starling and English house sparrow also are federally protected. This includes protection of eggs, nests, and feathers. The IDNR works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect and manage birds in Illinois.
Before you take any action, consider these facts:
1. Birds often leave the nest before they can fly. These birds, known as “fledglings,” will live on the ground for a few days while they grow flight feathers. Their parents will continue to feed them. Keep children and pets away.
2. Do not attempt to rescue fawns. Fawns stay very still to conceal themselves until they are old enough to keep up with their mother. Does will not stand near the fawns, because that would alert predators to their presence. Leave fawns alone and the mother will return once you leave the area.
3. It is illegal to feed wild deer. When deer congregate, it can facilitate the spread of disease.
4. Wild birds and animals can become habituated to people when they are provided food. Do not leave pet food outside at night, clean up under bird feeders, and secure garbage can lids to keep raccoons and other wildlife out. Nuisance animals can become dangerous to people.
5. Handling wild animals can result in the handler being bitten. According to the Centers for Disease Control, wild animals that bite a person must be euthanized immediately to be tested for rabies.
The IDNR urges everyone to enjoy wildlife by observing, but not interfering. Keep yourself, your children and your pets safe. Leave wildlife in the wild.
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