OUTDOORS: Leave wildlife wild

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
Bill Wehrle column

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Spring and early summer is when most of Missouri’s wildlife is born and, with people heading to the great outdoors to enjoy the nice weather, it’s almost inevitable that some folks will find what seems to be abandoned wild animals and birds.

In reality, that’s usually not the case and our trying to “help” a helpless-appearing young critter usually results in more harm than good. The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages us to leave wildlife wild where we found it.

Young animals are rarely orphaned. If the young is left alone, the parent (unless it has been killed) will return from its trips to get food and water and take care of the little ones.

MDC State Wildlife Veterinarian Sherri Russell advises, “If you see a chick with feathers hopping on the ground, leave it alone and bring pets inside, because it’s a fledgling and the parents are nearby, keeping watch. “If you find one with no feathers, try to return it to its nesting area, as it most likely fell out of the nest.”

Despite old wives’ tales to the contrary, human scent does not cause wild mothers to reject their young, so putting a baby rabbit or squirrel back in its nest won’t cause a problem for the adult animal.

Also, make sure stray cats and dogs are “run off” or returned to their owners (cats or dogs not on a leash are illegal in Chillicothe and you should call Animal Control to come and remove them).

Most newborn wild creatures won’t survive in captivity, as humans are not equipped to give them the care they need. In addition, wild animals can become dangerous as they mature, and can carry parasites, disease, and cause property damage.

Native wildlife can carry mites, ticks, lice, fleas, flukes, roundworms, rabies, distemper, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and skin diseases, many of which are easily transmitted to humans.

Although it’s tempting to try to “save” an apparently-abandoned wild creature, it’s best for you and it to leave it alone.

Missouri’s wild turkey-hunting season is well underway, with the first week of the three week season ending tomorrow.

The youth-only turkey season on April 10-11 was almost rained out the first day, but the young hunters still were pretty successful, with a final harvest total for the two days of 2,771, 59 more than last year, but far under 2015’s youth season record harvest of 4,441.

Speaking of bringing home wild “critters,” be sure to take cautionary steps to not bring home any of numerous varieties of wood ticks that love to hitch a ride on your clothes or body, and also like to feed on your blood.

Ticks carry several different diseases that they can transmit to a person, and some of these are very debilitating, possibly even fatal.

Prevention is the key word here.To prevent a tick from hitching a ride on you, spray your outdoors clothes thoroughly with a Permethrin-based spray and spray yourself with insect repellent, since you can’t spray your bare skin with the tick killer (it could be deadly to you with too much sprayed on your bare skin).

For you turkey hunters still after that big old gobbler, hunt hard, but hunt safe. Good luck!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday)