Game Commission says Never the Twain Shall Meet

Gregory Vellner
Young animals should be left alone, says the Game Commission.Photo byVincent van ZalingeonUnsplash

HARRISBURG, Pa. – In what might resemble Rudyard Kipling’s phrase never the twain shall meet, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has issued advice to Bucks County residents who this time of year encounter young wildlife like a deer, bird, raccoon or other animal: best if never the twain shall meet.

Some young animals might appear to be abandoned, the Game Commission said, but usually their mothers are watching over them from nearby. This can been seen in places like Tyler State Park in Newtown, and Core Creek Park and Playwicki Park in Langhorne.

“Well-intentioned people might step in to help a young animal that appears to be alone, not realizing its mother is nearby and it’s not in need of help,” said Matthew Schnupp, director, wildlife management, state Game Commission. “That’s one reason why leaving young wildlife undisturbed in the wild typically is the best solution when encountering young wild animals.”

Adult animals often leave their young while they forage for food, but don’t go far and do return, according to Schnnupp. Wildlife often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy,” where young animals will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.

Deer employ this strategy, he said, and deer fawns sometimes are assumed to be abandoned when, in fact, their mothers are nearby.

The Game Commission urged residents to resist the desire to interfere with young wildlife or remove any wild animal from its natural setting.

Such contact can be harmful to both people and wildlife. Wild animals can lose their natural fear of humans, making it difficult, even impossible, for them to ever again live normally in the wild. Anytime people make contact with wildlife, there’s a risk of making contact with diseases and parasites like fleas, ticks and lice.

Wildlife that becomes habituated to humans also can pose a public-safety risk, according to the Game Commission. Several years ago, it said, a Bucks County family that had taken in a fawn for feeding was attacked and severely injured by a six-pointer looking for the young deer.

“It is illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild,” said Travis Lau, Communications Director. State Game Commission. “Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal. Under no circumstance will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal”

Animals infected with rabies might not show obvious symptoms, but still might be able to transmit the disease, he said. People can get rabies from the saliva of an infected animal if they are bitten or scratched. Only wildlife rehabilitators licensed by the Game Commission are permitted to care for injured or orphaned wildlife for the purposes of eventual release back into the wild.

(Would Kipling agree with this advice? ‘Follow’ for more.)

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA

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