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Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today reminded New Jersey residents to refrain from approaching
wildlife during the spring and summer months, the most active period for
young animals. Because of the increased visibility of these animals,
people are encouraged to exercise discretion and keep contact with
wildlife to a minimum, allowing the animals to grow in an undisturbed
environment.

"During the spring and early summer, the lives of many young animals
are disrupted. Many well intentioned people pick up young wildlife
thinking that the animal may be injured or abandoned," said DEP
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Human intervention is usually
unnecessary and can be detrimental to the development of the natural
survival instinct."

Perceived acts of kindness often result in tragedy for young wildlife
taken from their homes. Instead of being left to learn how to survive,
they are denied critical learning experiences. Animals may become
attached to or "imprinted" on their human caregivers, causing them to
lose their natural instincts and become more susceptible to predation or
injury as they mature. In most cases, they cannot be returned to the
wild.

"An animal's best chance of survival is with its parents," said
Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Martin J. McHugh. "Though a lone
animal may look vulnerable, it is often using its natural instincts to
hide and protect itself until the parents return from foraging for food
and is not in need of outside help."

Human scents such as perfume, deodorant, and detergent can also be
transferred to an animal during contact, which can discourage a parent
from accepting it back or potentially attract predators that associate
human scent with food.

Handling wild animals and bringing them into the home also poses a
health risk for both people and pets. Wildlife can transmit
life-threatening diseases such as rabies and can carry parasites such as
roundworms, lice, fleas and ticks.

Handling any type of wildlife demands the utmost caution as all animals
will attempt to defend themselves from perceived danger. In addition,
it is against the law to take animals from the wild and keep them as
pets.

If you do find a wild animal that is injured, please call the nearest
wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. Wildlife rehabilitators are
licensed and inspected by DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife to handle
wildlife emergencies. For a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators,
visit DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife web site at:
http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/rehablst.htm.
 
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