"The Invasion of the Wild Baby Snatchers" sounds like the title of a monster
But "baby snatchers" concern the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
(WDFW) because they're not just in the movies. They're real, illegal and potentially
dangerous to both man and beast. The "baby snatchers" who concern WDFW are the
well-meaning people who pick up wild baby animals.
On Memorial Day weekend -- the start of the outdoor recreation season and
birthing time for many wild animals -- people "invade" the woods and beaches and
often discover newborn wildlife.
Every year at this time some people can't resist the urge to pick up newborn
animals that appear to be orphaned or helpless. The "snatched" wild babies include
seal pups on the beach, ducklings on the water, and bear cubs, raccoon kits, coyote
pups and deer fawns in the woods. In many cases, the parent animals even witness
the abductions of their young.
Held in captivity by people who don't know how to properly care for them, the
young animals usually become sick or instinctively aggressive. In past years, WDFW
staff have been swamped with calls from people who have picked up these unsuitable
wild "pets" and cannot care for them. Most animals removed from the wild don't
Taking wild babies out of the wild or holding wild animals in captivity is not only
unsafe for animals and people, it's against Washington state law. The minimum fine for
holding any wildlife in captivity is $152.
WDFW officials remind outdoor recreationists to enjoy all wildlife from a distance.