Reuniting wild babies with their mothers:
There are normal situations in the wild where an animal and her offspring may become temporarily separated. The young may either remain hidden or at a den site, or may wander off short distance. They may cry out when alarmed or hungry. In most cases, the mother will not be far away. She will return shortly, possibly moving her offspring if she feels the site has become unsafe. Mothers may leave the dependent young alone for long periods of time to minimize the risk of predation (e.g., deer, cottontails). The adult mammal could also simply be away in search of food for herself and her offspring.
Every spring and summer, thousands of young animals are taken to rehabilitation facilities by well-meaning rescuers. In many cases the young have no greater need than to be reunited with their mothers to survive and prosper in the wild. They are neither injured nor ill. Their mothers have not abandoned them, but are waiting for a safe time to attend to them. In these cases it is our responsibility to attempt a reunion between mother and young.
Some temporary separations occur because the mother has been scared off by humans, their pets or machines (e.g., lawnmower, vehicle). Nests or dens have been accidentally or intentionally destroyed. Some separations are the result of well intentioned but unnecessary "rescues" referred to as kidnapping.
If the mother is still in the area and the juvenile is healthy and reasonably safe, a reunion should definitely be considered. Rehabilitators have demonstrated success in reuniting a wide variety of animals. Before you act observe what it happening in the area. If you have any questions or concerns about wildlife call Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Nancy J. Carey
Wild in Vermont