This is the time of year when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources starts getting calls about baby animals being found in the yards of homeowners. DNR Diversity Biologist, Bruce Ehresman, says most of the critters do not need to be “rescued” and trying to take them from place where they were born will more likely do more harm than good.
“One of the species I think that we receive the most phones calls about are baby bunnies. Lots of little baby bunnies are being produced in people’s yards,” Ehresman says. “Even if the dog kind of interrupts the nest and pulls the little guys out, typically mom is going to come back and relocate the nest, and if you leave them alone they will probably be just fine.”
He says it’s not uncommon for complete litters of baby raccoons, foxes or even skunks to mysteriously appear on the doorstep of DNR field offices as people think they are helping the young animals. Ehresman says the exception would be young birds who get tossed from their home in a wind storm. “If you can help it get back in the tree and if it’s too — for instance if the nest came down — you can create a makeshift nest with perhaps a little plastic container with holes poked in it. Put it back close to where you found it and mom is probably going to take care of those babies just fine,” Ehresman says.
Otherwise, Ehresman says most babies taken from the wild die from the stress of being handled and placed into the unfamiliar surroundings of a cardboard box. He says only licensed rehabilitators know how to properly care for them and often by the time they intervene it’s too late.