Not abandoned

Every spring, fawns and baby wildlife of a variety of species start showing up in Colorado, including the Upper Arkansas Valley of Lake, Chaffee and Fremont counties.

Unfortunately, too often those baby critters also start showing up at Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices in the arms of well-meaning people who don’t heed our call to leave baby wildlife alone.

This year, the numbers are particularly high and CPW is urging the public to simply call the agency if they believe an animal has been abandoned. Not only is it illegal to keep and feed most wildlife as your own, but it will also lead to a poor chance of survival if they are ever returned to the wild.

“Many birds and mammals give birth this time of the year,” said Jim Aragon, CPW Area Wildlife Manager for the region that extends from Leadville to Buena Vista, Salida and Cañon City. “It’s not uncommon for newborn wildlife to be found in backyards, trails, open spaces and even in parking lots.

“But rarely are these animals truly abandoned. Does will leave their fawns for hours at a time while they go off to feed. The fawns will stay right where they were put until the mother comes back.”

Aragon said animal lovers must resist the urge to pick up or feed young animals.

“Young animals do not need rescuing and have been prepared by nature to survive without human intervention,” he said. “In fact, human intervention most often does more harm than good.”

Baby mammals are born scentless, a natural defense mechanism that allows them to hide from predators. When humans touch them, they leave behind an unfamiliar scent that can scare off the animal’s mother. The human scent also makes it impossible for the baby animal to hide from predators.

Handling wildlife also poses a potential for harm to humans including disease transmission of rabies, distemper or other illnesses. Wildlife can also carry fleas that might subsequently spread disease to humans or pets.

If you do encounter young wildlife on the trail or in your yard, leave the animal where it is and be careful to keep pets out of the area.  Maintain distance between yourself and any young wildlife. This allows the mother to return and not view you or your pets as a threat to the newborn which may result in aggressive behavior. Use binoculars to quietly view the animal from a distance. Do not get too close to the animals as human proximity may make the wild parents afraid to return.

Wild animals that are truly abandoned often can be sent to licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities for nurturing. These rehabilitators are trained to use methods that will give a wild animal the best chance of surviving upon release.

CPW asks people to call 719-530-5520, to ensure the best outcome for animals. For more information on living with wildlife, visit

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