ISU Extension Wildlife Programs gets a number of calls each year from people who have discovered an injured or abandoned wild animal. This often occurs in late spring to mid-summer when most wildlife young are born or hatched. Fledgling birds, white-tailed deer fawns, and young eastern cottontail rabbits are all common sights. The tendency of some people is to think that because the young animal is on its own its parents have abandoned it. In reality, some wildlife parents do leave their young in order to forage for food, although they are usually not far away. And not all baby wildlife is helpless. Killdeer chicks, for example, are able to leave the nest as soon as their down is dry and are seen wandering nearby their parents until they gain independence at around 25 days. Parenting in nature takes on many different forms.
The best thing to do when you discover young wildlife is to be patient and watch until the parent or parents return, which they nearly always do. Any involvement of ours is likely to do more harm than good. Of course, accidents do happen, such as nests and dead trees that blow down in a storm or a landowner who removes a dead tree without realizing there is a family of fox squirrels or raccoons using it. In some cases, such as with a fallen nest and its young, you may simply be able to put it or its young back in the tree. With other situations, while it is hard to hear sometimes, it may be appropriate to allow nature to take its course.
Invariably, some wildlife is injured and in this case, you may wish to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Click here for a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators.