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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: No kidding around; leave young wildlife alone

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: No kidding around; leave young wildlife alone


Spring is here and summer is fast approaching and so are many of Mother Nature’s wild babies.

If you spend any amount of time in the woods here in Connecticut or other states during this time of the year, you have a good chance of coming upon some of them. If you do, leave them be!

I have lost count of incidents of young wildlife being “rescued” by a well-meaning person. One of the most common is when they find a baby deer (fawn) that has been “abandoned” by its mother. Ninety-nine percent of the time, and maybe even more, this is not the case.

The fawn is often left in what the doe deems a safe place while they go about the business of eating, and the fawn will stay right where it is if not disturbed or picked up by a human. The doe will return to the spot she left her baby to care for it and feed it.

There is a saying by those involved with managing our wildlife resources when it comes to finding baby wild critters of all species: “If you care, leave them there!” It is as simple as that.

The chances of coming upon baby wildlife are slim, but when you do, for some it becomes an emotional issue. Here is this cute baby deer looking up at them so “Bambi-like” with those pitiful brown eyes as if begging for sympathy. However, I would imagine the plea is, “Please leave me alone so my mother can find me.”

It is worth repeating to tell you about an incident with a fawn when we had our place up in New York. I was using a scythe to maintain one of the trails we had on our land and, luckily, I noticed a depression in the weeds I was cutting. I stopped my swing and was astonished to see a baby fawn curled up and hiding in the overgrown weeds.

My first thought was to return to my truck and get a camera and take a couple of photos. Then I decided to practice what I am always preaching, “If you care, leave them there!”

I left the fawn right where it was and continued on up the trail. About an hour later, when I came back down the trail, the fawn was gone and I would imagine that both it and the doe were happier.

Another fawn incident worth mentioning happened to my good friend Pete Picone. Pete was on a turkey hunt with another hunter and they picked a tree to sit back against and do some turkey calling. Imagine Pete’s surprise when he looked down to see that they had sat down right next to a fawn. They left the baby deer untouched and hunted off in another direction.

If you care, leave them there.

In my 70 or more years of roaming the woods, I have seen many young wildlife critters both feathered and furred. When I was in grade school at Hanover School in South Meriden, back in the 1940s, I had a baby squirrel “follow” me home and sort of adopt us for a while before it went back to its wild ways, but I did not know at the time it was the wrong thing to do.

A number of years ago, I was scouting some land in a forest up in the northern part of Connecticut and flushed an “injured” woodcock. At least it appeared to be injured because of its weak-seeming flight.

It only flew a short distance before hitting the ground, and when I got close to it the same scenario occurred. By this time in my life I knew that it was putting on an act to get me away from its nesting spot, so I played the game with it a couple of more times before it finally took to wing and made a healthy-looking getaway.

Even on the water, I have seen a mother duck pull the crippled flight trick to lure me away from a nesting area and her flock of babies.

One day on the Coginchaug River, above the waterfall, I saw some kids playing on the river bank and they scared out a flock of baby ducks. The swift current took them over the waterfall, and I do know that some of them survived. But, again: If you care, leave them there, and teach children the same mantra.

Sometimes wild critters can be a bit careless in choosing a safe haven for their young. Edna and I were on an outdoor writers trip in West Virginia and were taking a walk on a well-traveled road. Suddenly, some type of sandpiper flushed up from the road right beside us. It was one of the oddest spots for a nest I have ever seen.

The bird pulled the old crippled wing act to lure us away. I find it quite amazing that so many of our feathered species use the same act when their brood is in danger.

And while you are at it, why not give wildlife a break while you are driving. I find it hard to comprehend how so many wild critters can be run over on our city streets when they are posted with a speed limit that, if obeyed, will give the wild critters a chance to survive.

Catfish count

The catfish have been stocked into Connecticut waters once again and they seem to be doing fine.

Prior to the stocking, I had gotten some reports on some nice catfish coming out of Mirror Lake and Silver Lake. In fact, I saw a three-pounder come out of Mirror Lake in the recent Kid’s Fishing Derby.

This year, Inland Fisheries stocked only adult catfish measuring between 14-18 inches and weighing just under two-pounds. Mirror Lake received 150 of the adult catfish and Silver Lake 730.

Mirror Lake has a three-cafish per day creel limit and Silver Lake has a daily limit of six. Regarding Mirror Lake, it seems that many of the juvenile catfish that were stocked in previous years have now become adults and some of them are quite large.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country. Freedom is not free!