Nova Scotia Asks Citizens to Leave Wildlife Alone
Each spring, people come across newborn wildlife in Nova Scotia's woodlands that appear to be lost or abandoned and many choose to treat those wild animals as pets.
But, the practice of rescuing wildlife can be dangerous to both the animal and the rescuer.
"Even if an animal seems to be hurt, lost or abandoned, people must avoid contact with it," said Natural Resources Minister David Morse. "If you are concerned about an animal's welfare in the wild, it's always best to contact your local Natural Resources office. The place for healthy wildlife is in the wild."
Each spring, the department receives calls about orphaned wildlife, including young deer, raccoons, skunks and birds. However, a cute fawn can grow quickly into a 50-kilogram deer with pronged antlers and sharp hooves, and can become aggressive and dangerous, especially during mating season.
People may take in an animal with the best of intentions, but eventually will decide they no longer want the pet when it has grown or become aggressive in captivity. Young wildlife removed from their natural habitat fail to develop natural survival skills, the ability to hunt and forage and the innate fear of humans, virtually eliminating any chance of survival in the wild.
Expanding urban development in the province leads to encroachment on wildlife habitat. Encounters with wild animals will become more common and people must learn to co-exist without interfering with the natural cycles of wildlife.
"The main growth period for many of these animals is from their birth in the spring until the fall," says Julie Towers, director of wildlife, Department of Natural Resources. "You're not helping the animal or yourself by taking in wild creatures. You may be putting yourself, your family and your pets at risk."
Wild creatures can carry disease, including mange, distemper, rabies, Lyme disease, and West Nile Virus, which may be transferred to humans or domestic pets. Every year, people are injured by pet wild animals. Not only is keeping wild creatures dangerous, it is also illegal in Nova Scotia under the provincial Wildlife Act.
For more information about wildlife in Nova Scotia, go to www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife or contact your local Department of Natural Resources office.