Use caution as baby animals venture out

This summer, young deer might be seen closer to residential areas on their own or either left behind while parents are foraging. If you have any questions about baby animals in your area or on your property, call the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 739-9910. (Submitted photo/DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife)

This summer, young deer might be seen closer to residential areas on their own or either left behind while parents are foraging. If you have any questions about baby animals in your area or on your property, call the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 739-9910.
(Submitted photo/DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife)

DOVER — With summer on the way plenty of baby animals will be frolicking around central and southern Delaware.

Some of them will likely wander into foreign territory.

The majority of spring-born wildlife already have come and many are being left on their own for the first time. In most cases, they intentionally were left alone by the parents.

“The most important thing is not to intervene even if you think an animal has been abandoned, because many times, the parent will leave to get food,” said Joe Rogerson, a wildlife biologist for Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.

“But if you’re worried about the amount of time the baby has been left alone, the best thing to do is call Fish and Wildlife and we can help determine the course of action,” he added.

In the coming weeks it’s not uncommon for chicks of all different species to be on low branches or even sitting on the grass for days at a time.

“It’s the time when young birds will be wandering out of the nest and they aren’t born expert fliers. So if they fall from the nest, their muscles aren’t strong enough to fly back up to it,” Mr. Rogerson said. “So don’t put it back in its nest on your own.”

Common birds like robins naturally will occupy bushes and low branches, so there shouldn’t be a reason for concern with those species spending a lot of time near or on the ground.

When it comes to dwellings, rabbits are one of the more difficult animals to determine if their home has been abandoned or not. This might pose a problem because many rabbit holes are in yards.

It’s advised not to fill in a rabbit hole or cover it up unless you know for sure it’s no longer occupied. That can be difficult to determine if only babies are inside.

It’s difficult for homeowners to know if a hole is still active or not if rabbits aren’t seen going in or out.

“A simple test to tell if a hole is empty or not is to tack down an X made of string overnight and if the strings have been disturbed by the next morning, you know it’s still active because the mother will return every night to feed the babies,” Mr. Rogerson said.

But not all babies will linger in or around their home.

The piping plover, an endangered shorebird, makes its home along the Delaware coast each spring and summer. There are currently nests at the Point at Cape Henlopen and Gordons Pond. (Submitted photo by Gary Cooke)

The piping plover, an endangered shorebird, makes its home along the Delaware coast each spring and summer. There are currently nests at the Point at Cape Henlopen and Gordons Pond. (Submitted photo by Gary Cooke)

“In the coming weeks residents will see more and more babies and young animals because they are just now venturing out of their nests or burrows. And if they go on their own, the young don’t have the same fears as adults.

So they’re more likely to come into residential areas and close to houses,” Mr. Rogerson said.

He added that once the young separate from their mothers, they will look for the easiest food and shelter. So it’s important to keep trash properly secured and to bring in cat or dog food and water bowls at night.

The most likely animals to either make a home or roam in your backyard are birds, rabbits, deer and raccoons.

Raccoons typically have the easiest time getting into unsecured trash and animal food left in the open.

A rare animal to be on the lookout for near Delaware’s shores is a small bird, the piping plover. A handful of them nest at the Point at Cape Henlopen.

The piping plover is an endangered species with only about 6,500 remaining. There are an estimated nine chicks at Cape Henlopen.

In addition to those, two more piping plover nests are at Gordon’s Pond, also in Cape Henlopen State Park. The eggs currently being incubated are expected to hatch in the next week or two.

Piping plovers can be identified easily by their sand-colored feathers and black bands across the forehead and neck.

They are similar in size to a sparrow but have orange beaks and legs.

If you have questions about any wild animals in your area or on your property, call the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 739-9910 or visit fw.delaware.gov.

 

 

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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