RALEIGH, N.C. (May 10, 2013) — Young wildlife may be cute — and it may be tempting to bring a fawn, cub, chick or kit home — but tiny animals are not pets. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding people that touching or feeding them can hurt wildlife and jeopardize human health. It also can harm the ecosystem.
Human encounters with young animals often increase in the spring, when many wildlife species bear young.
“Wild animals are not pets, and they are not meant to be raised and fed by humans,” said Ann May, the Commission’s extension wildlife biologist. “Wild animals still have their wild instincts, even if they seem tame. Well-meaning people can be injured by a wild animal just following its instincts,and the interaction can be harmful to the animals as well.”
It is illegal to keep native wildlife as a pet in North Carolina. Also, capturing and handling a young animal can stress it, sometimes fatally. In addition, young animals that look abandoned often are not. Many species do not stay with their young constantly and only return to feed them. The parent may return and become aggressive in an attempt to defend its young. And, as a young animal grows, it,too, can become aggressive.
Feeding animals may seem harmless or even helpful. However, it causes the animal to lose its natural fear of humans and seek more human food. An animal may become aggressive or cause property damage in its search for more human food.
Wildlife can transmit diseases, including rabies and roundworm, to humans.
For more information on coexisting with wildlife, including young animals, visit www.ncwildlife.org.