Cochrane Ecological Institute Where Ideas Become Reality
Why do wild animals become orphaned?
Wild ecosystems are the homes of wild animals. They are experts at living in the wilderness because everything they need to survive and thrive is there. During the Spring, most wild animals give birth to their offspring where they usually survive until they are old enough to leave their parents. For most animals, the first year of life in the wild is the riskiest even under perfect conditions. Once they have successfully made it past 18 to 24 months they will most likely live a long and productive life in the wild.
Cities and towns, roads, railways, telephone wires, farms and ranches, and industrial and recreational areas change wild ecosystems to a semi-domestic or domestic landscape. These changes influence the lives of the wild animals who lived in the area long before these human initiated changes were made. Although there are wildlife species that can live compatibly within the domestic landscape, there is also an unintended result of the human impact on the wild environment: orphaned wild animals of all shapes and sizes can come into contact with human settlements.
Often, such as in the case of deer fawns and leverets (baby hares), baby animals found alone are not orphaned. If left completely alone, the mother will return to them. For birds of prey, like owls and hawks, nestlings develop their wing muscles by holding tight to a branch and flapping. However, strong winds can sometimes carry them off their branches. If that happens, the parent bird will most times find and recover the nestling. If a nestling is found on the ground though and no parent seems to be around, it should be placed as high as possible in the nearest tree. A wildlife rehabilitation centre should also be notified so someone can keep an eye on it. Ideally, parents of wild animals should be the ones to bring up their young if possible.