Orphaned and Injured Animals
Often when people find young animals, particularly in spring and early summer, it may appear they have been abandoned or orphaned because an adult animal is not seen in the immediate area. However, the adult is usually somewhere close by. Since young animals are not old enough to escape danger by running or flying, staying motionless is their best defense. The adult has left the area so not to draw attention to its young and will return after you leave. By handling or taking an animal in you reduce that animal’s chance for survival. In addition, possession of a live wild animal is also illegal. So, if you come across young animals while enjoying North Dakota, leave them where you find them.
People often have questions about what they should do if they come across an animal they think is injured. Injuries are common in the wild, and people generally are concerned for the welfare of animals in these instances, and would like to help in any way they can. However, if you come across an injured animal, the best thing to do is leave it where you found it. Taking in an injured wild animal can lead to further injury to the animal or yourself, risk of disease, and habituation to humans. It is also illegal. We understand the desire to help, but leaving the animal alone provides the best opportunity for it to make a recovery.
If you have any questions regarding this information please call the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300 or your closest regional office or game warden.