FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. — As spring arrives, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has sent out a warning against possessing emerging young wildlife.
Without a permit, it is illegal to possess and handle wild animals due to the risk of spreading dangerous diseases and parasites like rabies, roundworms, ticks and Lyme disease, among other things.
“People often have good intentions when they see a young animal in the woods, but getting close and touching the animal is really harmful to the animal and can be dangerous for you,” said Vinnie Johnson, a wildlife biologist for the WVDNR.
Those found to be Illegally handling wildlife can be fined up to $300 and/or face up to 100 days in jail.
“We don’t want to discourage wildlife viewing, but folks need to know that this is a pastime they need to enjoy from a distance with the use of binoculars,” Johnson said.
The WVDNR also said that what often appears to be an abandoned animal is actually natural. For example, fawns are often left alone while an adult doe searches for food, so it is advised that you do not approach it.
In the case of young birds that appear to have fallen out of a nest, it is okay to assist the bird back into its nest “if the bird is pink and featherless and the nest is easy to reach.”
However, in most cases the bird is a fledging learning how to feed and fly and should be left alone.
For more information about wildlife in West Virginia, visit wvdnr.gov.