VALPARAISO | When it comes to raising baby deer, rabbits or other wildlife, their moms know best so in most cases leave the animals alone.
That's the advice of Nancy Satterlee, president of the Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
"We'd like to get the news out and we feel every spring should be a tutorial that 95 percent of the time leave the babies alone so their moms can raise them," Satterlee said.
Satterlee said spring means the time when their will be a number of wildlife babies born with well-meaning people "rescuing" the animal thinking it's been abandoned by its mother.
In fact, the animal mother is most likely foraging for food for her baby.
"The important thing to remember is that baby wildlife are always, whenever possible, best raised by their mother in the wild," Satterlee said.
The wildlife center, located on about 30 acres northeast of Valparaiso, has as its mission rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned wildlife and public education and programming on wildlife issues.
Thanks to funding received from the Humane Society Calumet Area in Munster the center recently has hired both an administrator and licensed wildlife rehabber and both should be in place by mid-April, Satterlee said.
Rachael Jones, who serves as wildlife veterinarian and adviser for the center, said she concurs with Satterlee the numbers of well-meaning people calling her office increases in spring.
"Springtime is the busiest of times. We field a lot of phone calls. ... My recommendation is if the animal seems to be in trouble to go to the state DNR website and contact a rehabber," Jones said.
She said baby birds are also among the wildlife that are hijacked from their parents by well-meaning people.
Both Jones and Satterlee advise that baby birds without feathers be returned to the nest if at all possible.
"Birds do not have a strong sense of smell and will not reject the baby if you handled it, that is an old wives tale," Satterlee said.
Baby birds with feathers found on the ground should not be put back in the nest.
"Most baby birds spend 5 to 15 days on the ground with the parents bringing them food. Keeping cats in the house during this time will mean more baby birds live to learn to fly," Satterlee said.
For more information on wildlife treatment or to find a list of wildlife rehabbers, go to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website at in.gov/dnr
Contact Jones at Southlane Veterinary Hospital, (219) 462-4114.