Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources officials are alerting the public that capturing, breeding or even possession of wild animals of any kind is illegal and are offering advice concerning what to do should wild animals be found near the home.KFWR Sgt. Danny Broyles and Beth Ott, a regional KFWR wildlife rehabilitator in Farmington, say spring is the time of year when reported human-wildlife encounters are at a peak. Various kinds of birds, raccoons, deer, skunks, opossums and other animals are plentiful and often wander near homes and farms.Broyles, a KFWR law enforcement officer, encourages residents to contact department officials should wild animals, even a young robin falling from a tree, come into your possession.“Of course we consider the situation on a case-by-case basis, but if you have a wild animal in your possession it is illegal,” Broyles said. “You need to contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife immediately if you have any kind of wild animal in your possession.”Ott, who is licensed through KFWR to nurse sick, injured or abandoned animals back to health and then release them into the wild under strict guidelines, says people are not doing wild animals any favors by trying to make pets out of them. Too often the animals are released back into the wild, or dumped on a roadside, when the animal proves to be dangerous to be too much of a challenge to keep.“There is nothing cuter than a baby raccoon, but there is nothing meaner than a full-grown one,” Ott said. “People take wild animals in and feed them and take care of them, but when they are released they don’t have the skills they need to survive.”Ott said she would like to refute the belief that a bird cannot be placed back into the nest because it’s been handled by a human.“That is an old wives tale. Mother birds are good parents,” she said. “They will take that baby and nurse it and feed it. Humans are a poor substitute for a baby animal’s mother.”If an animal comes into your possession, Ott and Broyles urge contacting KFWR officials as soon as possible. People are asked not to try to feed baby animals.“This is critical. Orphans must first be adequately rehydrated before any type of milk replacer is offered,” she said. “Wildlife intakes are generally given fluids for at least the first 24 hours. Failing to do this significantly decreases the chances the baby will survive.”Until the animal has been turned over to wildlife officials, it is important to keep the animal quiet and warm and avoid unnecessary handling. But the most important factor is not attempting to keep wild animals as pets.“Besides being illegal, wild animals are not good pets,” Ott said. “Although baby animals are cute, they often become aggressive and destructive if kept in captivity.”Animal-carried disease is also possible, according to Ott, and Calloway County Public Health officials have recently warned that amphibians and reptiles particularly small turtles, should not be handled because of the threat of salmonella poisoning.To contact KFWR officials, call toll free at 1-800-858-1549 or contact Ott at 1-270-345-2442.
By TOM BERRY
Murray Ledger & Times