OUTDOORS: Leave ‘abandoned’ baby wildlife alone

Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Babies are all over the wilds of Southeast Texas and beyond.
Fawns are being found in backyards, baby birds in their nests and opossums and raccoons are rearing young as well.
Spring is a time for birth and child rearing in the wild and it is also a time well-meaning people take matters into their own hand when they should simply leave things alone.
“Many people discover apparently lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing, and this sometimes does more harm than good,” said Mark Klym of the Wildlife Diversity branch at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
“People should leave young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. It is best to observe a wild creature from a distance for a while in order to make that determination.”
TPWD said fawning season begins in early to mid-May with fawns’ mottled coats hiding them from predators. As fawns mature they shed these coats for a more adult color, they can catch the eye of a predator.
In dry areas of the state, animals are traveling greater distances and taking greater risks to find food and water. Many urban dwellers may spot adolescent birds, deer, armadillos, turtles and other wildlife in their daily walk to the car or office. In our area floods have brought many animals out of the river bottoms into new habitat and in some cases right in the middle of our cities.
TPWD reports the compulsion to help or investigate an animal that looks abandoned can be overwhelming, but interference could harm its chances of rejoining its caretaker. If adopted, even for a few days, animals may lose the skills necessary to fend for themselves in the wild.
“It’s true, a lot of these deer and other animals do not make it to adulthood,” said Alan Cain, the Whitetail Deer Program Leader at TPWD.
“With the natural baseline for their natural habitat threatened from drought, many does cannot produce enough milk to support her fawn.”
Last weekend we photographed a fallow doe along a private road and as we drove close to her a fawn’s head popped out of the bushes. The mother retreated and later returned. Many people would go get the baby and take it home but that is usually a bad idea. Do not touch any baby as the human scent might cause the mother to abandon permanently.
The absence of a mother does not mean it has been orphaned.

Reader Mark Jones sent in an email and asked what are the largest sharks an angler might encounter in the surf at Sea Rim and other local beaches.
The most common large shark on the beaches would be the bull shark. They can grow up to 10 feet in length although most are in the 4-5 foot range. We also have lemon sharks which grow to similar sizes.
Marcus Heflin of Christian Surf Fishing Adventures had a hammerhead in the six foot class swim right by him a few weeks ago out at Sea Rim. That’s a rare encounter in our area but big hammerheads are out there.

This week the Bassmaster Elite Series hits Toledo Bend with the top anglers in the nation competing for a $100,000 prize and an automatic entry into the 2017 Bassmaster Classic championship out of Lake Conroe.
I expect huge catches this week and would not be surprised if the winner takes between 75-80 pounds. I also expect the big bass to be in the 9-10 pound class.
Some anglers to watch at this event are Dean Rojas, Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Chris Zaldain and Brent Chapman who won their a few years ago.

A good piece of advice for any angler with a smart phone is to get an app that warns you when a severe weather event is breaking out in the area.
The rule of running from a storm is if you can see the storm its too late to completely avoid it and lighting can hit you many miles from the actual storm.
Be very careful out there because the storms have been more severe than normal lately and erratic. I have on several occasions in the past thought I would not make it to the dock and don’t plan on repeating that any time soon.

Anglers should be on the lookout for any ribbonfish they see on the south end of the system. The water might still be a little fresh for them but if you see any small ribbonfish being chased out of the water stop and fish. Most of the time it is speckled trout with them.
Some of the biggest trout I have seen throughout my career have been caught under ribbonfish on the south end of Sabine Lake.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

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