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Wildlife officials concerned over unnecessary "rescues"

Spot a baby animal this spring? Leave it in place
Arizona Game and Fish Department Tucson
Posted at 1:30 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 16:30:24-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Arizona Game and Fish Department's (AZGFD) Tucson regional office is reporting increased calls concerning baby wildlife this spring.

After taking custody of both a juvenile bobcat and javelina, the department expressed concern over a potential trend: Members of the public making incorrect assumptions that young wild animals are "abandoned," leading them to "rescue" the wildlife.

AZGFD said in most cases, baby mammals are left alone for long periods of time while the mother searches for food and water.

The act of separating a young animal from its mother, even by well-meaning individuals, typically results in negative consequences for that animal, according to Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson.

"Although it seems humane to ’help’ or ’rescue’ baby animals perceived to be in need, wildlife reared in captivity by humans -- without the benefit of learning from their parents -- have a greatly reduced chance of survival if they are released back into the wild,” Vega said.

According to the AZGFD, consequences can involve euthanasia or lifetime captivity for the animal and a penalty of four months jail time and a $750 fine for the person responsible.

If an animal does appear to be injured or in need of help, AZGFD reminded the public to contact them directly at (623) 236-7201 or to reach out to Tucson Wildlife Center.

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Anne Simmons is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. Anne got her start in television while still a student at the University of Arizona. Before joining KGUN, she managed multiple public access television stations in the Bay Area and has worked as a video producer in the non-profit sector. Share your story ideas and important issues with Anne by emailing anne.simmons@kgun9.com or by connecting on Instagram or LinkedIn.