The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is reminding Delawareans that when encountering young wildlife, regardless of species, the best thing to do is to leave the animals alone.

Whether in their own backyards or while taking a walk outdoors, Delawareans are likely to encounter young wildlife this time of year. While some young animals appear to be abandoned, usually they are not. In most cases, their mothers are watching over them somewhere nearby and waiting for people to move on.

Many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, leave their young while they forage for food, visiting the young only a few times a day. This tactic, in addition to the young’s natural instinct to lay quietly while waiting for its parent to return, actually helps protect the young from predators by drawing less attention to them.

Removing or handling wildlife in any way can be harmful to humans and wildlife.

If a young wild animal is spotted alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, which could take several hours. Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain. Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can affect people and pets, such as fleas, ticks or rabies. Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep any wild animal in Delaware.

If a young wild animal appears injured or its parent is dead, call the Division of Fish & Wildlife during business hours Monday through Friday at 739-9912 or after hours and weekends at 800-523-3336 to determine the appropriate course of action.

Taking a wild animal from the wild is almost certainly ensuring it will not survive, so DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is advising, “If you care, leave them there.”