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If You Care For Wild Animals, Leave Them Be
Updated May 2, 2017 7:10 AM
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(UNDATED) - Every spring, kind-hearted Hoosiers "rescue" a seemingly abandoned baby wild animal and try to care for it.

Don't do it.

This time of year, thousands of animals are born in the wild. With the spread of suburban areas into their natural habitats, young animals are increasingly born near humans, who might sometimes discover them without an adult animal nearby.

"Most baby animals are not abandoned," said Michelle Cain, wildlife information specialist with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. "Many animals leave their young alone when searching for food and come back to them throughout the day."

Picking up a baby wild animal poses risks to the animal and to humans.

The best response to encountering a baby wild animal is to leave it alone.

State laws prohibit keeping protected wild animals without a permit. Most wild animals are protected by law and cannot be kept. Federal laws also prohibit possession of migratory birds, including songbirds, raptors and waterfowl.

It is even illegal to treat wild animals for sickness or injury without a permit.

Wild animal rehabilitation permits are issued to qualified individuals who take in sick or injured wild animals with the intent of releasing them back into the wild.

If you encounter an injured or sick wild animal, do one of the following:

  • Take no action and allow nature to run its course.
  • Call a licensed wild animal rehabilitator as listed at and click on "Wildlife Rehabilitation."
  • Call the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife at (317) 232-4080.
  • Call your DNR Law Enforcement district headquarters or regional headquarters; contact information is at
  • Call a licensed veterinarian for immediate assistance with a sick or severely injured wild animal.

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