‘Tis the season for cute baby animals

The following was submitted by Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

The following was submitted by Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

The grass is growing and the trees are covered in fresh green leaves and blossoms. It must be spring!

This means that Baby Season for local wildlife is also beginning. Great Horned owlets have already hatched and are gradually growing their feathers. Bald Eagles are incubating eggs that will hatch very soon and songbirds are building nests. Otter, Fox and Raccoon kits are hidden in their dens under tree roots, in burrows, in rock crevices, or under sheds and houses, and will soon start poking their noses out of their dens for the first time.

Within the next few weeks nesting season will be in full swing. Ducks and geese will be sitting on their eggs in feather-lined nests near ponds and lakes and little nestling robins and finches will be chirping in their nests in local gardens. Soon new-born fawns will be curled up in quiet spots waiting for their mothers to return to feed them, or following their Moms on little wobbly legs.

It is a great time of year to see these beautiful young creatures, but also a time when they are very vulnerable. They not only face natural hazards like predators or bad weather, but also man-made hazards such as our vehicles, pets and gardening projects. Every year many baby wild animals are killed or injured when a dog chases a doe and her fawn, or when a cat finds a nest of baby rabbits, or pounces on a fledgling robin that was just learning to fly. It is the time of year when lots of people get out into their gardens to trim back bushes or clear brush, only to find that they have destroyed a hidden nest and now have a batch of tiny nestling songbirds that need help. Young animals tend to move more slowly, so mother raccoons, otters or ducks that are shepherding their brood across the road are more likely to be hit by cars, leaving behind orphaned youngsters.

We can all help reduce these man-made hazards to wild youngsters by following a few guidelines:

•Keep dogs and cats under control.

•Drive carefully and give young animals time to cross the road.

•Carry out major yard work outside of the main April-July nesting season.

•Watch wild animals with their youngsters from a distance. Don’t try to get too close.

If you find an orphaned or injured wild animal, please don’t try to care for it yourself. They need very specialized diets and care to give them the best chance of surviving and going back into their homes in the wild.

Call Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, 360-378-5000 to report an injured or orphaned wild animal or if you have questions about baby wildlife.