DWR reminds public about illegally keeping wildlife

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wants people to leave abandoned wildlife left alone. VTWR photo

LOGAN — Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported they had two incidents this year of unassuming people thinking they are saving an abandoned fawn by bringing it home with them, said David Smedley a DNR wildlife biologist who oversees Cache Valley.

David Smedley a DWR wildlife biologist said people should leave all wildlife alone.

We have had calls already this year from people who find a fawn and pick it up and bring it home because they thought it was abandoned,” he said. “The mother may have left the fawn as a predator deterrent and they generally will come back for it.”

He said just because you don’t see the mother doesn’t mean she is not around.

“If someone picks up a fawn, they usually call us and we go pick it up,” Smedley said. “If we can get it back to the area where they picked it up all is well. The fawn will likely survive.”

If they can’t get it back to the original spot in time the fawn has to be euthanized.

Deer are not the only animals. Well-meaning outdoorsmen like to pick up birds that can’t fly yet.

“People should leave animals alone,” Smedley said. “They have a better chance of survival if they are left alone.”

He said DWR has a place to rehabilitate birds in Ogden, but they aren’t set up to take care of big game.

DWR has recently received several reports across the state of people taking home newborn fawns and baby raccoons. The state wildlife agency would like to remind the public about the dangers and legalities of trying to keep a wild animal as a pet.

It is illegal to hold any protected wildlife species without a permit, including those you can hunt like deer, cottontail rabbits, several bird species, bears, cougars and others. The DWR oversees the management of these species throughout the state.

Some wild animals are not protected under Utah state law, meaning you do not have to possess a valid hunting or trapping license to harvest them. However, there are different rules to keep wild animals like raccoons (which are not native to Utah) and coyotes, which require a permit to house them in captivity.

The importation, distribution, relocation, holding in captivity or possession of live coyotes and live raccoons in Utah is governed by the Agricultural and Wildlife Damage Prevention Board and is prohibited under Utah Code, except as permitted by the  Utah State Veterinarian’s office at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Unpermitted animals may be seized immediately by the DWR, Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and Food, animal control officers or peace officers if the person possessing the animal cannot produce a valid permit for each individual animal. The following wild animals are considered non-protected wildlife in the state of Utah:

  • Raccoons
  • Striped skunks
  • Coyotes
  • Ground squirrels
  • Gophers
  • Jack rabbits
  • Muskrats
  • Field mice

You may be written a citation for illegally possessing these animals, which is a Class B misdemeanor.

“It’s important to protect the health, welfare and safety of the public, as well as wildlife,” DWR Law Enforcement Capt. Wyatt Bubak said. “These animals are wild and should be treated as such, even when they are babies.”

DWR can give permits to people who want to keep wildlife in their possession to learn more about the process Visit the DWR website.

Diseases, viruses and parasites from wildlife can be transmitted to humans and pets via saliva, feces or urine. Viral diseases of raccoons include rabies, canine distemper, raccoon parvoviral enteritis, infectious canine hepatitis and pseudorabies. Raccoons can also carry and transmit leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be lethal for unborn babies.

Raccoons can also be infected by the roundworm Baylisascaris, a parasite. Raccoons seldom display any symptoms of having these roundworms and can transmit them to people and other animals via their feces. This parasite can cause extreme damage to the human eye, organs and brain.

Fawns and other big game animals may look harmless, but they can become aggressive as they get older, particularly around dogs, and during breeding seasons. Whenever wildlife becomes habituated to people, it can lead to dangerous situations for both the animals and the public.

For more tips about how to safely live with wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

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1 Comment

  • AKHR June 24, 2021 at 3:10 pm Reply

    What if the animal you find is injured and sitting in the middle of a busy road, so you call local animal control and are told, “it’s a wild animal, let nature take its course”, but that answers seems inhuman since it will undoubtedly be killed by busy traffic, so you take it a upon yourself to help the animal regardless of what Cache County Animal Control said?!?!

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