By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Liz Reynolds heard her dogs barking and went to see what all the commotion was about. What she discovered was that her four dogs had cornered a very small fawn.
When she approached, one of the dogs picked the fawn up in its mouth. She was able to make the dog turn loose of the tiny creature. But, she knew that she would have to do something fast.
“I was afraid they were going to hurt the baby,” Reynolds said.
She put the fawn in a pet carrier and began making phone calls. Eventually she was directed to Nancy Fachman, a full-time wildlife rehabilitator with Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.
Once Fachman heard the story and understood that the fawn would not be safe on the Reynolds’ property, she told her to bring in the animal so the rehabilitation process could begin.
“I don’t raise the fawns,” Fachman said and added that it is her job to stabilize the baby deer. “After that, it will go to another rehabilitator who has a compound where it can be raised as a wild animal. When it is released, it will be as wild as it can be.”
Unfortunately, no all cases are as clear cut as this, according to Fachman. Many times well-meaning people see wild animals and make the wrong assumption that they are in need of help. This is especially common with baby animals.
“Unless you see the mother dead in the road, do not attempt to rescue the fawn. This goes for any wild animal,” Fachman emphasized. “It is recommended to leave the baby in the woods.”
It is also against state and federal laws for unpermitted, well-meaning people to administer aid to injured or orphaned wildlife.
The number one rule of wildlife rehabilitation is to avoid having to do it, according to the Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilita-tion, Inc. website at www.mswildliferehab.org.
MWR was formed in 1995 to meet the increasing need for wildlife assistance. The Director, Valery Smith, has over thirty years’ experience in wildlife rehabilitation. Each year, hundreds of injured and orphaned wild birds and mammals are received by MWR which is licensed by the State of Mississippi and the U.S. Government as a wildlife rehabilitator.
Rule number two is call a wildlife rehabilitator immediately. In the Yalobusha County area call 473-3983 or elsewhere in north Mississippi call (662) 429-5105.
Rule number three is do not assume that just because you love animals and successfully take care of pets, that you can take care of a wild animal or bird.
Rule number four is that wild animals and birds do not and will not love you. They may depend upon you for food, but you are universally viewed as a predator.
Rule number five is that caring for wildlife is NOT a good lesson for children. Children should be taught respect for wildlife, but they do not need to touch them to appreciate them.
Rule number six is that wildlife rehabilitators are not financed by the government. They are grass roots organizations staffed by dedicated volunteers. Federal and State governments license wildlife rehabilitators, but they do not fund them.
For more information, go to the website at www.mswildliferehab.org.