Cute Wild Kids
Wolf Hollow shares this with you…
There is no doubt about it, baby wild mammals are cute, and bring out the nurturing instinct in people, who then feel the need to get closer to them and feed and “care” for them.
Why is that a problem? It’s all to do with what they learn when they are youngsters. At this juvenile stage their parents are teaching them skills that will enable them to survive on their own in the wild for the rest of their lives, and they only have a few months to do it in.
If they are consistently and regularly fed by people, what do young animals learn?
They learn to beg for food rather than to forage or hunt. They find out that it’s easier to sit and look cute at the side of the road than follow Mom or Dad and learn how to catch mice. But what happens in fall when there are fewer visitors, or the youngsters have to move out of their parent’s territory to find a new home. The hand-outs stop and the youngsters don’t know how to find natural food on their own.
They learn to be less wary. There are a lot of people who do not like raccoons, foxes or deer. A wild youngster that is not wary of people is much easier to injure or kill.
They learn to hang around roads and houses where there is a greater risk of being hit by a car or attacked by a dog.
They learn to expect hand-outs, so boldly walk into yards and up to people. They don’t stay small and cute for long and soon find out that people are not happy when a pushy young buck or a full-grown raccoon appears to be a threat to their children or pets. They are then labelled “nuisance” animals and don’t tend to live long, happy lives.
It may seem harmless to give just one cookie to the cute fox kit or tempt the little fawn to nibble an apple right from your fingers, but how many other people have done the same thing? How long will it be before the little creature learns that people are a great source of tasty snacks and starts hanging around the house or the picnic area?
Next time you are tempted to feed a cute, little, wild animal, take a moment to ask yourself why. Does the animal really need the cookie, or are you feeding it so you can get it to come closer and maybe get a cute photo? What is best for the youngster in the long-term? Maybe it’s better to leave its parents to teach it how to find food, and all the other important things it needs to know to survive as a wild animal.