They’re Sure Cute, But Please Leave Baby Animals Alone

Each spring, FWP receives several calls from people who have picked up deer fawns or other wildlife.

With the recent news out of Yellowstone National Park of the baby bison that was picked up by tourists and ultimately had to be euthanized, the issue is in the forefront of everyone’s mind.

It’s important to remember that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks no longer accepts, holds, or rehabilitates deer and elk. Diseases (like Chronic Wasting Disease) are a concern when moving deer and elk, and raising fawns and calves is often unsuccessful.

All wildlife species and their young should be left in the wild. If you see a baby animal, whether a goose or a grizzly, keep your distance and leave it alone. Handling baby animals can be dangerous and usually once young animals are picked up by people they can’t be rehabilitated. They are often abandoned by adult animals once human scent is transferred to them.

Baby Bison

Three Bison calves in Yellowstone National Park.

What can you do?

  • Leave It There. It’s natural for deer and elk to leave their young alone for extended periods of time. What appears to be an orphaned animal may not be.
  • Control Your Dog. Keep your dog under control, especially in the spring when newborn wildlife is most vulnerable. Pet owners can be cited and dogs that harass or kill wildlife may by law have to be destroyed.
  • Keep In Mind. It is illegal to possess and care for a live animal taken from the wild.

As a wildlife agency, our priority is to keep wild animals wild. When people keep and raise elk, deer or other animals, it habituates wildlife to humans, potentially causing problems once released back into the wild.

Should someone bring a deer or elk to FWP, they’ll be asked to take the animal back to the site where it was found.  If the animal can’t be returned, it will be humanely euthanized.