Scott Berndt got a bit of a surprise when he walked into a parking lot near his home on Findlay’s north end. Nestled beneath a car that was being backed out of its space was a fawn deer, completely unnoticed by the driver.
Good fortune smiled twice on the tiny animal. First, the car missed it; secondly, the fawn was discovered by an experienced outdoorsman. Berndt understood that handling the animal would be a last-ditch effort to save it, and he also knew exactly where to go for advice.
After contacting the Division of Wildlife, he also called me for my experience. A plan was quickly formulated to give the fawn its best chance for survival. It was simply moved a very short distance from the busy parking area and into the nearby woodlot, where mom was surely in hiding.
A young wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother. Most wildlife taken in by people don’t survive, except when handled by specially trained personnel. In many cases, a young animal collected by a person was not lost or abandoned, but was simply waiting for a parent to return.
Many adult wild animals leave their young alone while they forage for food or try to divert the attention of predators away from their vulnerable young, especially during daylight hours. In the case of white-tailed deer, a doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent and, when the fawn is left alone, it is difficult for predators to find. The doe is usually nearby and will tend to the fawn during the night.
Baby birds that have fallen from their nests are one of the most common wildlife species to be removed from the wild by humans. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not prevent the parents from returning to care for their young. Individuals should return baby birds back to their nests and walk away so the parents can continue to feed the birds without fear of humans.
If individuals find a young animal that is visibly injured or clearly in severe distress and may need assistance, visit wildohio.gov/staywild before taking any action. Specific information for commonly encountered wildlife species is available to help guide people on how to best help the animal.
State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife in Ohio, and only specially trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators, with special permits issued by the Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals. These laws are in place for the benefit of humans as well as wild animals.
To further protect young and vulnerable wild animals, keep pets under control so they do not raid nests or injure wild animals. Also, remember to keep Felix and Fido inoculated against parasites and diseases before venturing out this spring.
Always check for nests before cutting down trees or clearing brush. It is best to cut trees and clear brush in the autumn when nesting season is over. Teach children to respect wildlife and their habitat, observing wildlife from a distance.
Contact a local wildlife official before taking action. Call 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543) or visit wildohio.gov/staywild to connect with the proper individuals and to read about species-specific guidance. Human intervention is always a wild animal’s last hope for survival, never its best hope.
“Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” — Chief Seattle, 1853
Along the way:
On April 13, a federal lawsuit was filed against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources by a group of 52 landowners west of Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County. The suit includes James Zehringer, director of ODNR, and employees in both the director’s and Gov. John Kasich’s office.
The suit claims that ODNR has worked to intimidate and retaliate against the landowners after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the agency owed them compensation for increased flooding from a redesigned spillway at the lake.
The spillway was revamped in 1997 and expanded from 39 feet to nearly 500 feet. According to the complaint, the change has caused increased water flow into Beaver Creek, flooding their property even after minimal rain events.
The complaint also states in line six that, “The Supreme Court of Ohio, after a hearing before the Court, held defendant Zehringer in contempt of court, the first time in Ohio history that a member of the governor’s cabinet has been held in contempt of the Ohio Supreme Court.”
According to the complaint, ODNR has appealed the appraisals, threatening to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. ODNR insists that it does not dispute the fact that increased flooding has taken place, but the contention centers around how much increased flooding has occurred.
To view the complaint: www.limaohio.com/news/239293/mercer-farmers-sue-odnr
• Tomorrow: Sporting clays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Tomorrow and May 27: Ladies day, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Get a safe introduction to firearms or hone the skills you have. Shotguns, rifles and handguns will be covered. For information, call Jackie Schnapp at 419-957-0459 or Sherri Ziessler at 419-788-4849.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• May 19: Youth fun day, 9 a.m. until everyone is tired out, Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186, open to kids 18 years of age and younger. There will be shotgun and .22-caliber rifle shoots that stress proper gun handling and safety combined with a healthy amount of outdoor fun. Targets, ammunition, door prizes and lunch will be provided. Donations will be accepted. For information, call Bob Yoder at 419-273-5057.
• May 20: 3-D mixed animal archery match, registration opens 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact Harold Spence at 419-423-9861.
• May 20: Ladies’ concealed carry class, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Contact Jackie Schnapp at 419-957-0459 or Sherri Ziessler at 419-788-4849.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.