Don’t approach newborn wildlife
Pronghorn antelope fawn

As you travel around Wyoming enjoying the spring weather, you may come across newborn wildlife. These young fawns, hatchlings and other babies are charismatic and incredible to watch and photograph. While it may be tempting to get close, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department urges people to leave newborn wildlife alone and keep a distance.


“Newborn wildlife is one of the best things about springtime in Wyoming, but please view animals from a distance and do not pet or pick them up,” said Doug Brimeyer, Game and Fish deputy chief of wildlife. “With all animals, the first few weeks of life are the most critical in determining their survival and interference from humans can put their lives at risk.”


Most mammals hide their young and return periodically to nurse. People who find young animals without a mother nearby often assume the newborns have been abandoned, but this is almost never the case. 


“The mother knows where her young are and will almost certainly return to care for them,” Brimeyer said.


Young birds sometimes fall out of or leave their nests before they are able to fly. The parents continue to care for the young bird while it is on the ground, bringing food and trying to protect the little one while it is in this vulnerable situation.


Getting too close to newborn wildlife can be very dangerous. A mother bear, bison, moose and even deer will display aggressive behavior when humans get close to their young. Leave the area immediately if you encounter aggressive wildlife. 


“The best option for people who come across newborn wildlife is to leave them alone,” Brimeyer said. “In short, wildlife don’t need your help; they have been rearing young just fine for centuries.”


If children bring home a wild “orphan,” immediately return it to the exact spot it was found. In the rare instance when a fawn or other newborn is found and the mother is known to be dead, contact the nearest game warden, biologist or Game and Fish regional office. Do not attempt to capture these animals yourself.


State and federal laws forbid possession of game and many nongame animals, so adopting newborn wildlife is illegal. Citations can be issued for possession of newborn wildlife with a possible penalty of up to  $1,000. 

Breanna Ball
Public Information Officer

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