|Every year, tens of thousands of baby wild animals are rescued that didn't need to be rescued. In most cases, well meaning people are trying to help an animal that they believe has been abandoned by its parents. All wild animals have very strong parental instincts and will often risk their own lives in defense of their young. It would be extremely rare for a wild animal to abandon its young. Many wild infants are thought to be orphaned because a parent animal is not seen. Some mammals, such as rabbits and deer keep a distance from their young during the day so as not to draw attention to their location. A commonly believed fallacy is that wild animals will abandon their young if touched by a human. While no wild animal should be handled unless absolutely necessary, enhancing an infant animal will certainly not cause the parents to abandon it. You can be certain that you have a legitimate orphan only when you have a dead mother, in the case of mammals, or both parents dead in the case of most birds. If a mother bird is killed, in most species, the father bird is capable of caring for the young after hatching. Exceptions to this are hummingbirds, pheasants, turkeys, grouse, woodcocks, and most ducks. In these species, only the female cares for the young. Finding a dead adult rabbit or squirrel in the street does not necessarily mean that the nest of young in your back yard are orphans. Steps should be taken to determine if the young are being attended by a parent before any human intervention is instituted. See reuniting tips under the particular species. People often want to "rescue" fledgling birds or infant mammals to protect them from dogs, cats, or kids in the neighborhood. Obviously, bringing all the wildlife indoors for their own protection is not feasible. The solution lies in controlling the domestic animals and children, not the wildlife. One of the more prevalent misconceptions is that hand-rearing of wild animals by humans is an acceptable alternative to parent rearing. Human intervention should be the absolute last resort for any wild infant. Callers to wildlife rehabilitation facilities often cannot understand why the rehabilitators are willing to expend so much effort to reunite infant animals with their parents. This is not because they are trying to lessen their animal care workload. While hand-rearing may facilitate the immediate survival of an infant animal, it greatly reduces its potential for long term survival in the wild. This is equivalent to winning the battle and losing the war. Unfortunately, hand-reared animals do not have the same survival skills, and perhaps more importantly, may not have the fear instincts of a parent-reared animal. No wild animal should ever be hand-reared by itself. To do so will nearly always result in imprinting or socializing of the animal. Imprinted or socialized animals will not fear people and probably not dogs, cats, automobiles, or many other things that can do them harm. An imprinted animal is one that doesn't recognize what species it is. Imprinting is irreversible. Because the fear of humans has been removed, imprinted animals can also present a risk to human safety. A rehabilitated wild animal will ultimately in the end, remember the individual human that helped them and gave them back their natural life, but will continue to be a part of their own species. To harbor a healthy, wild animal as a pet or exhibit, will ultimately end in the animal hating the human and their unnatural life they are giving to them, thus, this may eventually lead into a vicious 'pet', which will be unhealthy, deprived, depressed, and unsafe. Be kind to our wildlife. Find them help, when they need it, and only with a qualified and experienced wildlife rehabilitator. Help us to help them, so we may all enjoy our wildlife and nature.