Helping wildlife not always the best idea, officials say

Mr. Quail eventually will join other Gambel’s quail in the area of Paul Sanders’ home. “The social pull of nature is really strong,” Sanders says.

It’s tough to know what to do when encountering an animal that is injured or seems to be abandoned, but in the vast majority of cases Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials recommend non-intervention or letting trained wildlife rehabilitators work with the animal.

“That’s a tough one because we understand that people are concerned about wildlife and want to help,” said Mike Porras, public information officer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife northwest region. “What we normally recommend is if people find a young bird that fell out of its nest, that they put the bird back and the mother bird will take care of it.

“If they’re unable to find the nest or unable to reach the nest, we recommend people place the bird nearby and the mother will hear its cries and continue to feed it.”

Porras said it is common for humans to wrongly assume that a baby has been abandoned, “but if it looks healthy and cared-for, then removing it from its mother is limiting its choices. It’s very difficult to duplicate the natural diet, and of course there’s stress on the animal that can lead to it getting sick or dying.”

However, if an animal appears weak or sickly, or its mother has been injured or killed or hasn’t returned in more than 12 hours, Porras advised contacting Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.

“No one’s knocking that sentiment of seeing a young animal and wanting to help it,” Porras said. “What we are saying is people need to get educated about wildlife. They’ve been surviving in the wild for eons and humans don’t need to intervene. We prefer people to leave wildlife alone at all times, but if they feel an animal needs help, we will respond.”


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