“They’re part of the circle of life”: WSU vets swamped with orphans urge leaving wildlife be

They are enough to make any animal lover’s heart grow ten times bigger and even for the less-outdoorsy folks, baby racoons, youthful coyotes and an adorable mini-mink are enough to make you swoon, but, they are best left alone if found.

Right now, Washington State University veterinarians are entering what ultimately becomes a busy time every year — baby season — and want the reminder out there; sometimes it’s best for the animals if you just move along.

The university teaching hospital only has so much capacity and limited money, though donations do help to care for the critters that well meaning people bring in, even if they didn’t need to be.

In current cases, a baby mink was found and brought in with its eyes still closed. It is likely that the parents were killed and it was found in a nest before being brought in.

After several weeks of care by the experts at WSU, it will ultimately be released. Charlie Powell, a spokesman for the school, said mink are feisty and easily re-habituated to the wild.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for coyote pups. The two being cared for currently were found orphaned after their mothers were shot. Unfortunately, coyotes are less likely to be able to be returned to the wild once hand-fed by humans.

Additional patients include a nest of raccoon kits, found after their mother was hit and killed by a driver in the Tri-Cities area. After being cared for, they will be released or potentially donated to wildlife rescues or zoological facilities.

The above cases were cases where the animals were actually orphaned prior to being brought in, but many other species will hide their young, or continue to feed them, if they, for example, fall out of a nest. If you interfere, that infant can suffer or be needlessly stressed during a trip to an area rehabber or veterinarian.

WSU vets want the reminder out there — compassion is key — but to mind the circle of life and the lifestyles of other animals.

For more information on the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine click here.

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