DNR looks to protect young wildlife

Ken Cobb

Spring is when West Virginia’s fields, marshes, meadows and woods are starting to receive various forms of new life. This season provides an outstanding opportunity for everyone to see and observe the young of not only domestic animals, but wild animals as well. However, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is practically pleading for everyone to only look at these young wild animals at a distance.

The does (female white-tailed deer) will be giving birth to their fawns in May and June. It is very important for people to realize the need to avoid touching young fawns. Anyone who picks up, touches or even slightly disturbs a fawn is highly increasing the possibility of doing great harm to the little animal and to themselves as well.

Picking up wildlife leaves behind a human scent that can attract a predator. It also increases the potential for a person to expose themselves to wildlife-related diseases and parasites like rabies, lice, and ticks. The viewing of wildlife is an enjoyable and perfectly acceptable activity, but it must be done at a sufficient distance. This activity is often best done with the aid of binoculars.

Every year, the DNR receives numerous calls from well-meaning people who have picked up a fawn. These people seem to think the newborn critter has been abandoned by its mother because she is nowhere in sight. This is simply one big mistake.

Hiding the fawn while the adult deer searches for food is a survival tactic. The fawn’s coloration, spotted markings and lack of scent is what gives the young deer its natural protection. This is nature’s way of protecting the fawn from predators. Removing the fawn from this natural environment certainly puts the young wild animal at much greater risk than what there would have been if it had been left alone.

As another word of caution, the DNR is also reminding everyone there is a state law that prohibits the possession of any wild animal without a permit. The fine for illegal possession of a bear cub, fawn, baby squirrel or any other wild animal during the closed hunting season ranges from $20 to $1,000. It could also result in up to 100 days in jail.

West Virginia’s wildlife is for everyone to see and enjoy. For the safety of the newborn animals and people at the same time, young wildlife must be left undisturbed. This way, they will always have the opportunity to stay wild.

While I am sitting here writing the week’s column, I am wondering what the WVDNR could have done to my parents when we had a pet crow for nearly 15 years when I was growing up.

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Last week, Gov. Jim Justice signed two pro-gun bills into law. House Bill 2679 allows law-abiding people to carry a firearm in any state, county or municipal park or other recreational area.

This new law removes the ability for commissions to prohibit firearms in parks by rules or ordinances. Law-abiding West Virginians should really not have to worry about such rules that are confusing and/or incompatible with state laws in the first place.

Senate Bill 388 allows law-abiding citizens in possession of a concealed carry firearm permit to transport a firearm onto school property while dropping off and picking up students, as long as the firearm does not leave the motor vehicle. Before, state law prohibited firearms from being carried or transported onto school property.

Anyone who can legally carry a concealed firearm for self-defense should not be barred from doing this while they are dropping off and picking up their children from school.

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