The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reminds residents to leave wildlife, especially young animals, alone.

Wildlife is active during this time of the year and it is not unusual for people to come across deer fawns, moose calves, robins, raccoons and other young wildlife in woodlands or in their backyards, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea for people to intervene.

A deer may leave its fawn hidden in the leaves on the forest floor if it is too young to come along to forage for food. The mother-young bond is very strong in mammals and birds, and a deer will return to its fawn as long as humans do not interfere.

“Too often people see a young animal alone and assume it has been abandoned by its mother, when in fact the mother has likely just left temporarily to search for food,” said IFW Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso. “In most cases, it’s best to leave the animal alone, because wildlife has a much better chance at survival when they aren’t disrupted by humans”.

Someone who comes across a healthy young animal or bird should leave it alone. Pets should be put them inside the home or on a leash so they do not disturb the young wildlings.

If it appears that an animal may be orphaned, call an IFW regional biologist or game warden to alert them to it.

Here are other tips on what to do when encountering young wildlife:

Fawns: It is always best to leave fawns alone. The nutrient profile of a mother’s milk enables fawns to be left for many hours as mothers feed on their own to help maintain the high energy demands of nursing the fawn. Adult does will return two or three times a day to nurse fawns, but otherwise leave them in a safe place and rely on the fawn’s camouflage and lack of scent to protect them from predators. As soon as a fawn is able to keep up with its mother, it will travel more with the mother.

Repeated visits to a fawn can draw the attention of predators and could discourage its mother from returning. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to feed a fawn.

Moose calves: Treat moose calves similar to fawns, but also be aware that approaching or handling a moose calf is likely to elicit a defensive response from a mother moose if it is nearby.

Squirrels or raccoons: If a nest of squirrels or raccoons must be disturbed, (for example, if a tree has been cut down or fallen) leave the young in the den part of the tree and move them nearby to a protected place. The mother will in all likelihood come back and transport them to a new location.

Birds: The same is true for a bird’s nest. Put the nest and nestlings into a nearby tree, supported in a basket or other container that has drainage. The mother robin or blue jay is probably right around the corner, and will return to feed the young and care for them until they can fly on their own.

Direct contact with wildlife can expose humans to a variety of diseases. Human contact with wildlife may lead to an animal's being euthanized in order to test for rabies.

For more information about Maine’s wildlife, visit: maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/human/living.html.