Caution Urged During Breeding Season

By Steve Rensberry, Editor

Spring is in the air! According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there’s also something else that’s about to make an entrance — Wildlife Breeding Season. I seriously had no idea that human interference in animal mating behavior this time of year was a problem, but apparently it can be.

“Wildlife biologists are often contacted during the breeding season by well-meaning people who believe incorrectly that they may be protecting young wildlife by taking possession of baby birds, rabbits, fawn deer, and other animals that may appear to have been abandoned or orphaned,” an IDNR statement reads. “In most cases, these animals and birds are still being cared for by their parents, which likely stay away form dens and nest if people are nearby.”

Here’s something else I didn’t know. All wild birds, with the exception of the Rock Pigeon, European Starling, and House Sparrow, are protected (from humans anyway), by federal law. “This includes protection of eggs, nests, and feathers,” the IDNR notes.

Other things noted by the IDNR:

• It is illegal to feed wild deer in Illinois.

• Don’t try to rescue fawns, which often stay still to conceal themselves until they can keep up with their mother. The mother may not stay near for fear of alerting predators.

• Young birds often leave the next before they are able to fly, even living on the ground for a few day while they grow feathers. It doesn’t mean they are in trouble.

• Don’t leave pet food outside at night, and secure the lids on garbage cans.

More good advice: “Clean up under bird feeders, secure the lids on garbage cans to keep raccoons and other wildlife out, and don’t feed Canada geese and coyotes in urban/suburban areas. Nuisance animals can become dangerous animals.”

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