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Love them? Leave them alone


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reminds residents to reduce stress to young wildlife by leaving them where you find them, giving them space, and keeping dogs and other pets away.

FWP wardens and biologists report that they have received many calls recently from people that see young wildlife that they believe is abandoned or injured, but what appears to be an orphaned animal usually is not.

“Those who contact us are wanting to help, but in most cases the best thing you can do is leave the animal where it is and give it space,” said FWP Region 2 Wildlife Captain, Joe Jaquith. “It’s normal for adult deer and elk to leave their young alone for extended periods of time.  They usually return, and young animals do well on their own, even for a few days.”

FWP does not accept, hold or rehabilitate deer and elk because the animals rarely survive the stress of captivity, and because of concerns with the spread of disease. Getting too close to wildlife causes them unnecessary stress, and animals picked up by people have the potential to be abandoned if human scent is transferred to them. 

“Animals often thrive without human intervention, and their odds of surviving in the wild are much greater if they are left alone,” Jaquith said.

FWP also reminds dog owners to keep their pets leashed or close to their side this spring and summer so they don’t chase, injure or stress young wildlife.  For more information about encountering wildlife in Montana, visit


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