Outdoor notes and happenings

By Jim Freeman In the Open

June 1, 2014

The woods and fields are alive with wildlife babies and people are reminded to leave them alone!

I tell people that an “Adopted fawn is a dead fawn.” Yes I am sure you know situations where such was not the case, but the truth of the matter is that most wildlife adoptions don’t end well for the animal or for the humans.

Furthermore in Ohio it is illegal to take in a wild animal baby; you do not have the right to try to raise a wild animal. These laws are in place to protect wildlife, humans and domestic animals by reducing the spread of disease or from keeping wild animals that have lost their fear of humans from becoming dangerous. I am not familiar with the laws in West Virginia but I imagine are similar restrictions there.

If you find a baby deer, leave it where it is, or return it to the wild so that its mother (or perhaps another doe) can take care of it. If the fawn is not injured there is a good chance its mother is nearby but keeping out of sight of dangerous predators – you! If the fawn is in your yard, keep your dogs and children away from it and just leave it alone, eventually its mother will realize it wasn’t a good hiding spot and move it.

Wildlife rehabilitators in Ohio are no longer allowed to take in whitetail deer fawns. So in a case where you know the mother deer has been killed the only hope is for another doe to take the fawn; you aren’t allowed to raise it. Nature can be harsh, but keep in mind that deer are essentially prey animals that provide meals for predators – their babies have to eat too!

However there are things you can do, like take care when mowing in tall grass or hay, especially around field edges, since whitetail deer fawns may be laying concealed in the tall grass.

If you find a baby bird on the ground, it is OK to put it back into its nest. In most cases, wild animal mothers will not abandon their young because a human has handled it. If you don’t see a nest, place the bird in a nearby bush.

Nests of baby rabbits are occasionally found in yards. Again, keep your dogs or cats away from the nest, or place a board on top of some blocks covering it allowing enough room for the mother rabbit to reach her babies. Baby rabbits do not stay in the nest for long.

The good news is that in a few short weeks these baby animals will be big enough to fend for themselves.

The 10th Leading Creek Watershed Day Camp will be held June 11-12 at the Meigs SWCD Conservation Area on New Lima Road between Rutland and Harrisonville.

Limited spaces are still available for this free outdoor-themed camp which is geared towards children ages nine through 14. To register or for more information contact Jenny Ridenour at the Meigs SWCD, weekdays at 740-992-4282 or via e-mail at

The 25th annual Ohio River Sweep will be held Saturday, June 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at locations along the Ohio River from Illinois to Pennsylvania including Meigs and Gallia counties in Ohio, and Mason County, W.Va.

River Sweep, sponsored by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE) is an annual river bank cleanup for the Ohio River and its tributaries. Throughout the years it has grown into one of the largest events of its kind encompassing almost 3,000 miles of shoreline from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, Ill.

Generally participants get a free t-shirt and lunch for their efforts to beautify the banks of the Ohio River. For more information on cleanup sites or the River Sweep visit

Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel. He may be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at