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Don't touch baby bunnies, says WILDNorth

They're not orphans
0205 Envirofile 20200421 sup
NO TOUCHY – A baby hare recently in the care of the WILDNorth animal rescue society. Society members are discouraging people from rescuing them.

ST. ALBERT — A local animal rescue group wants to remind people to leave those “abandoned” baby animals alone.

The WILDNorth wildlife rehabilitation society, 12515 128th St., Edmonton, made several posts on Facebook in late April about people calling about baby animals, especially hares.

“It seems (the hares) all gave birth in the last couple of weeks,” said wildlife education manager Carly Stenhouse.

While people might be concerned about finding a baby bunny alone somewhere, it’s almost always best to leave them be, Stenhouse said. Mother hares typically stash their leverets somewhere as they forage for food to hide them from predators, as the babies are scentless. Touching one won’t cause its parent to abandon it, but will make it smell like a human, which could attract predators such as cats.

The same goes for “abandoned” baby squirrels, of which the society gets about two a week, Stenhouse continued. Mother squirrels often have several nests, and will move babies between them. It’s best to wait and see if a parent comes back to claim the squirrel before moving in.

Stenhouse said she’s also had many calls from people concerned about predators attacking baby animals.

“We can’t stop a predator from being a predator. They need to eat too.”

Stenhouse discouraged people from intervening in wildlife-on-wildlife attacks to avoid interference with natural processes. If you do so accidentally and the animal is still alive, the society might be able to care for it.

“A lot of these animals are prey species,” she said, and being near humans, even in an animal shelter, stresses them out. Shelters also can’t give baby animals the full nutrition they’d get from their parents.

Stenhouse advised residents to call the WILDNorth hotline at 780-914-4118 before interacting with any apparently orphaned wildlife.

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Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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