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2024 Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Encounter Guidelines

Thayne Muthler

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is emphasizing the importance of vigilance as wild animals and their young begin to migrate across the state with the onset of spring temperatures. With proactive measures before encountering baby wild animals, individuals can play a crucial role in ensuring their well-being and preserving wildlife in its natural habitat.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is emphasizing the importance of vigilance as wild animals and their young begin to migrate across the state with the onset of spring temperatures. With proactive measures before encountering baby wild animals, individuals can play a crucial role in ensuring their well-being and preserving wildlife in its natural habitat.

Jenna Fastner, the DNR Captive Wildlife Health Specialist, cautioned against attempting to care for a wild animal independently if it appears sick or injured. It's best to leave such animals undisturbed. Providing food or water to wild animals is also discouraged as it can jeopardize their health and pose risks to humans. Fastner reminded the public that harboring a wild animal without the proper license is illegal in Wisconsin.

It's common for mothers in many species to leave their offspring unattended for periods, during which young animals often remain still and quiet to avoid attracting predators. Revealing the location of a baby animal could inadvertently alert predators or delay its mother's return. Securing the area and maintaining distance from people and pets is advised. Encouraging children to observe from a safe distance can serve as an educational opportunity to learn about the importance of "keeping wildlife wild."

2024 Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Encounter Guidelines: Tips for Safe Wildlife Encounters and Seasons

Occasionally, young wild animals may wander away from their nest or den as they become more independent. If encountering a seemingly healthy young animal alone but not near its nest or mother, monitoring from a distance is recommended to see if it returns or is retrieved by its mother, which may take several hours. Contacting the DNR or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance before intervening is advisable. The DNR's Keep Wildlife Wild webpage provides species-specific recommendations for determining if a young wild animal is orphaned or in need of assistance.

If encountering a wild animal that appears sick or injured, it's important to refrain from touching it. Documenting observations with photos and notes and then contacting the DNR or a certified wildlife rehabilitator for assistance is recommended. The DNR website offers a directory of rehabilitators in the area for further assistance.