DNR warns not to take baby animals from the wild, even if found alone

"Likely it is not abandoned, and it still is being cared for by a parent,” said Rachel Leightner, wildlife outreach coordinator for Michigan's DNR
Baby Animals in the wild
Posted at 7:54 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 07:54:34-04

SPARTA, Mich. — Well it is finally Spring (at least technically), and the weather is warming up; the leaves are slowly filling the branches back up, and of course baby animals are being born.

“Earlier Spring is the breeding season for many wildlife species in Michigan," Rachel Leightner, wildlife outreach coordinator with the DNR, told FOX 17 Thursday morning.

"And so, now through June is the time for those young wildlife to start being born.”

If you spend much time at all outdoors, you will likely see a fresh-faced critter at some point. If you do, the DNR reminds you NOT to take any baby animals away from where you find them, even if you can't see where their parent is at the time.

The only exceptions to this would be if the animal is clearly injured or if you know for certain that their parent has died.

“And it's because it is likely not abandoned, and it still is being cared for by a parent,” Leightner said.

“The springtime is a critical moment for young wildlife to learn how to survive."

Some of the most common baby animals spotted around West Michigan this time of the year are songbirds, ducks, rabbits and fawns. Go to the bottom of this article for specific information on dealing with those types of animals.

If the animal is clearly injured, at that point you can take action and reach out to a licensed animal rehabilitator.

Soulshine Wildlife Center in Sparta is one of those licensed centers.

“When someone reaches out, a lot of times it's regarding an animal that they have found, and we have to break down why this animal was being found in the first place,” said Amber Covell, licensed wildlife rehabber and founder of Soulshine.

She says that a lot of the calls they receive are about animals that need to be left where they're found.

"Unfortunately, a lot of times they're found in that... that teenage realm, where they're not quite ready to be on their own, but they're also moved out of the nest," Covell told FOX 17 Thrusday afternoon.

"And that's when we have to explain to people that they don't necessarily need help; they just need to be left alone.”

The goal at Soulshine Wildlife Center is to get all of the critters that come through better and back into the wild as soon as they are able.

Covell says, “The best way you can help: if you really, really want to help animals, then leave them in nature where they belong.”

If you find a baby animal of any kind in the wild that has you concerned for its well-being, you should always check the DNR's website for what to do. There you will also find a complete list of every licensed rehabilitator in the state, as well as what types of animals they are able to accept.


  • Babies like to hide in areas with tall grass or yards that haven't been mowed in a while
  • Rabbits lay their nests in the ground
  • Check your yard for nests before you power up your lawn mower & mow around the nest
  • Rabbits will eventually disperse within a few weeks


  • Often nest in high trees near homes, or tucked in small caverns
  • They are typically looking to get out of the wind
  • Look out for fledglings; they are often found on the ground
  • Fledglings must be left where they are; they are learning to fly
  • Fledglings often have an "unsettling" look to them; pink to gray in color


  • Often found on back patios/in garden beds
  • Mother deer will leave them in "strange" locations near humans
  • This is because there is often few predators in those areas
  • Mother will often leave them there alone, but will soon return

Michigan DNRWhat to Do if I Find a Baby Animal, List of Licensed Animal Rehabilitation Centers
Soulshine Wildlife CenterFacebook Page, Website
Bearwave Publications// Ron St Germain— Facebook Page, Website/Purchase Photo Books
(Ron St Germain generously provided all of the photos used in this story)