Calgary

Leave the hares, save the newborn squirrels, wildlife society says

It can be hard to figure out what to do if you come across what appears to be an injured baby animal now that it’s spring, so the executive director of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is here with some ideas.

People think they are helping, but sometimes they are interfering

You can't see it, but this baby squirrel's eyes and ears were still closed when it arrived at the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. That's one exception to the rule. Normally, the executive director says, it's best to let nature takes its course and leave them be. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

It can be hard to figure out what to do if you come across what appears to be an injured baby animal now that it's spring, so the executive director of the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is here with some ideas.

"He's pretty young. He's about a week old. He needs to be kept warm. Somebody found him and brought him in," Andrea Hunt said, of a baby hare now at the society.

"We are hoping when people see them they just enjoy that it's spring, and that there are babies around but leave them alone unless they are obviously, visibly injured. If they are bleeding or you see a wound, they need to come to us, but other than that they should just be left alone."

Hunt says, sometimes people think they are doing the right thing, when they are actually interfering with nature.

"People think their mom has abandoned them, but that's not what has happened. Their mom comes back twice a day to feed them and the rest of the time they are left by themselves in the grass," Hunt said.

This baby hare, about a week old, was recently brought in to the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. Often, however, it's best to leave baby animals alone. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

There are some exceptions though.

"These squirrels are three weeks old. Someone just found them cold and alone and baby squirrels shouldn't be cold and alone. They were obviously orphaned. Now they are going to be raised here until they are old enough to go out into the wild," she said.

Their eyes and ears were still closed, she said.

"We order specialized formula that has the right nutritional content for our baby mammals. That's why we tell the public if they find orphaned baby mammals they should not feed them or take them into their house. Most people don't have access to the right food and it's illegal to have wildlife in your home. Either way, it's bad," Hunt said.

"Their moms build nests in trees. The mom goes out to eat and comes back and nurses them. When we see babies all alone, we know something is going on. Sometimes the nest gets blown out of a tree, some people are pruning their trees so sometimes branches come down with nests on them and then mom will abandon it. If you find a baby squirrel with eyes and ears closed, it needs help."

Spring is Homestretch traffic guru Jenny Howe's favourite season. Why? Because baby animals are being born! And while we all love to see them in their natural habitat, sometimes they get brought in to the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society. Right now, there are a couple of tiny mammals there that are only a couple of weeks old. Jenny headed to the CWRS to meet with Andrea Hunt, the Executive Director of the society. 6:24

With files from Jenny Howe and The Homestretch

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