I understand the draw to “help” wildlife. I am an animal lover and wish I could save all the furry little critters out there. People often try to help when they don’t really know what they are doing. They mean well but are thinking with their hearts, not their heads. This is a list of times people should have left wildlife alone.

  1. A family traveling through Yellowstone last week saw a baby bison. They decided he looked cold and needed assistance. Their idea of helping him was to put him in the back of their SUV. Wildlife officials working at the park tried to reintroduce the bison to the pack. The pack would not take him back and the bison had to be euthanized. The family was ticketed.
  2. A woman saw a large turtle in the road moving at, well, a turtle’s pace. Concerned he would be hit by a car, the woman stopped to “help” the turtle get to the other side of the road a little faster. What she did not realize was that he was a snapping turtle. Instead of a “thank you” she almost lost a hand. Incidentally, that woman was me. Lesson learned.
  3. A woman videotaped a moose walking through her yard while she was having a yard sale. The woman was smart enough to stand behind her truck while taping. However, she was talking to the moose, making a joke about her coming to the yard sale. I think that was a dangerous thing to do. This was a momma moose with babies. She likely felt trapped and confused and may have weighed up to 800 pounds. Moose often plod along slowly but they can move at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. If the moose felt threatened and went after this woman, I’m not sure the truck could have saved her.
  4. People who don’t know how to behave at zoos. Several news stories have shown people ignoring barriers at a zoo in order to get closer to the animals. Living at a zoo does not erase the wild instincts the residents were born with. People who get into an enclosed area with a wild animal not only endanger themselves. They also endanger the animal and the staff who have to rescue them.
  5. In NH last year, 12 deer were found dead. The reason: well-meaning animal lovers spread deer feed. Deer have sensitive digestive systems. They couldn’t process the food and it led to their death. See the full article.

Wild animals are not family pets, no matter how cute they are. They are wild if they live in the wild. They are wild if they live in a zoo. They are wild if they are in your back yard. Please respect them. If you see an animal in distress, please don’t intervene personally. Contact a wildlife professional. They will tell you what to do. More importantly, they will tell you what not to do.

Nature can be cruel. But here’s the thing: it works. Species have lasted for centuries because of survival of the fittest. There are also measures in place that monitor animal populations. So please remember to respect wildlife. Love them from a distance. Keep yourself and them safe. If you are like me and don’t like to see nature play itself out, don’t watch the Discovery Channel.

Below are some links if you need assistance with wildlife.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators NH

Center for Wildlife Cape Neddick ME

Maine Wildlife Rehabilitation

If you don’t live in Maine or NH, check your state’s Fish and Game Department website.

Pictures taken with a long lens from a safe distance.

Moose facts from