Spring is the season for new life, and wildlife across Montana is no exception.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks releases a yearly statement warning well-meaning Montanans to steer clear of baby deer, elk or other wildlife that may appear to be abandoned.

Education and Program Manager Vivaca Crowser has more.

“As we enter into spring, it's the time that we're going to see deer fawns and we're going to see elk calves as we're out and about and it doesn't take much here in western Montana to run into baby wildlife,” said Crowser. “It's really important to remember that when you see them just keep your distance and know that oftentimes when we see a baby animal that looks like it's been left alone, and looks motherless, for the most part, it's only left for a little bit of time to get some food, and will return shortly.”

Crowser said this is normal behavior for wildlife and not to try to interfere.

“In most cases there's nothing to be worried about, but I understand that it does sometimes seem a little concerning and we do get a lot of calls this time of year, but that's just normal behavior and the best thing we can do for wildlife is to give them space and give them a chance to survive,” she said.

In fact, human contact can cause unintended damage to the fawn or calf.

“Anytime we handle wildlife it introduces a risk that we may get our scent on the animal and in turn will decrease its chances of survival when it goes back in the wild,” she said. “We cannot hold or rehabilitate animals like deer and elk at Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It's a disease risk and it's not something that we do, so the best bet is to always leave the animal where it is.”

Crowser said it is extremely important to never deliberately feed wild animals, even if they are on your property.

“Feeding wildlife can really introduce a lot of risks that we don't want to have,” she said. “Things like concentrating a number of animals, even if it's just concentrating a bunch of deer in your yard, which may seems harmless, but can be a problem,” she said. “Over time deer can get aggressive towards us when they get comfortable while they are looking for that food they're expecting. It also can lead to other wildlife that are pursuing deer like a mountain lion or other animals that might want to follow them into areas that can be dangerous for us.”

In other words, don’t turn your property into a game trail.

In addition, it is against the law to feed wild animals in Montana.

 

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