With each spring, new life is welcomed into the Northwest B.C. region, and residents may notice young elk, moose and deer in the backcountry and sometimes near their homes.
Skeena Region Conservation officers have been receiving calls from the public saying they have found and picked up abandoned fawns and calves — but getting involved may be doing more harm than good.
“We encourage people to not approach young or baby wildlife,” says Scott Senkiw, North Coast conservation officer. “Typically the mother is very nearby.”
Deer, moose and elk are “hider” species, meaning the female will often hide her young in vegetation during the first two or three weeks of its life while she is off feeding. The female will then return several times a day to feed and clean her young.
A moose calf can be especially dangerous to approach, as moose cows can be quite protective of their young and may become aggressive if they feel their calves are threatened.
If there is a baby wild animal that is believed to be abandoned, for reasons like if their mother is found deceased or there is an obvious injury, the best thing to do is call the conservation office for advice, Senkiw says.
Though one exception does apply for baby birds — if one has fallen out of its nest, gently return it if it’s safe and an active nesting site is obvious.
“Their best chance for survival is to remain in the wild. The common misconception is that in the wild, a mother bird will reject a baby if it is handled by a human,” he says. “This is not true, but a mother may not return if people or pets spend too much time in the area.”
Another tip is to slow down while driving on roads and highways and watch for wildlife, Senkiw says. If you see any wildlife in a ditch or near a highway, reduce your speed and anticipate the movement of that animal, or others of its kind, onto the highway.
Bottom line? Resist the urge to handle wildlife, big or small. If in doubt, contact the Conservation Officer Service’s call centre at 1-877-952-7277 RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters).