Look but don’t touch when it comes to wildlife

The RSPCA is appealing to the public today to help save thousands of fledglings, fox cubs and other baby animals from unnecessary handling by humans this summer.

Each year the Society is flooded with calls from well-meaning people who misguidedly take in young animals fearing they have been abandoned or orphaned. In fact the youngsters’ parents are often waiting nearby – and in many cases the animal would be better off left alone.

During spring and summer months RSPCA wildlife hospital staff face the task of raising more than 100 fox cubs, some of which should have been left in the wild. Cubs will often play above ground in the daylight and vixens regularly leave their litter alone for short periods. In both cases youngsters run the risk of being found and considered to be orphaned.

RSPCA wildlife scientific officer Llewelyn Lowen said the public should leave young animals alone and only consider intervening if the youngster is sick, injured, in immediate danger or clearly orphaned and in need of help.

He said: “Each year our inspectors and centres are deluged with calls about orphaned animals. It is important that people realise they can do more harm than good if they don’t follow the simple rule of withdrawing, observing the animal from a distance and thinking very carefully before intervening.

“Birds in danger should be placed out of harm a short distance away and left completely alone for an hour or so. The parents are likely to be nearby waiting for you to go.

“Even fox cubs that have genuinely lost both parents may not need help as, in some areas, other foxes known as helpers may be present in addition to the breeding pair.

“Placing a bowl of dog food nearby and checking again after 24 hours is a better solution than intervening.

“Wild animals can suffer greatly through being handled and this should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Anyone who finds an animal in pain should contact their nearest vet or call the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999.”

Before touching any baby wild animal, we always advise monitoring first to check that it is genuinely orphaned or abandoned, as the parents are often nearby and waiting for you to leave.

If you are concerned for the welfare of a young wild animal that seems to be alone, please watch from a distance and call the RSPCA’s Cruelty and Advice line on 0300 123 4999.



Notes to editors:

?     Images of fox cubs admitted to our West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset available on request


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