It's become a rite of late spring in Pennsylvania.
As the weather warms, wildlife becomes more active, and in the case of young wildlife, it means more animal-human conflicts.
From bear sightings in local communities (and near local schools) to cars and trucks hitting deer on local roads and highways, animal activity is heating up in the Lehigh Valley.
In addition to the animal-human conflicts, animal sightings are on the increase at this time of the year. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is once again urging people to refrain from disturbing young wildlife that looks abandoned.
"Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal is not an orphan or abandoned and the best thing you can do is to leave it alone," PGC Bureau of Wildlife Management Direct Calvin W. DuBrock said.
"While it may appear as if the adults are abandoning their young, in reality this is just the animal using its natural instincts to protect its young. Also, young animals often have camouflaging color patterns to avoid being detected by predators."
The spotted pattern on young deer is part of that camouflage, as is the deer's color, which tends to be redder in the more verdant months and more gray/brown in the cooler months.
DuBrock said that mature animals often leave their young unattended while searching for food. The young animals employ "hider strategy," which means the young animals learn to remain motionless and basically hide in plain sight.
Rich Palmer, the PGC director of Wildlife Protection, said that it is illegal to harbor wild animals.
"Habituating wildlife to humans is a serious concern because if wildlife loses its natural fear of humans, it can pose a public safety risk," Palmer said. "For example, a few years ago a yearling six-point buck attacked and severely injured two people. Our investigation revealed that a neighboring family had illegally taken the deer as a fawn into their home and fed it. This family continued to feed the deer right up until the time of the attack."
In addition, animals may also carry rabies, which is a serious health concern.
"Animals infected with rabies may not show obvious symptoms, but still may be able to transmit the disease," DuBrock warned.
Wildlife rehabilitators licensed by the PGC like the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (570-402-0223) are the only ones who are permitted to take care of injured or orphaned animals for the purpose of releasing them back to the wild.
•Get Outdoors: While Saturday is National Trails Day, several state agencies have joined together in the Get Outdoors PA! initiative (www.getoutdoorspa.org) to make it easier to find outdoors activities in your area.
The site lists various activities with specific events for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, target shooting, paddling, biking, wildlife watching and even winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
"Get Outdoors PA! events give Pennsylvanians many opportunities to venture afield and connect with wildlife and not necessarily have to travel far from home to do it," Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director R. Matthew Hough said.
The PGC, the state Fish and Boat Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural resources, Department of Health, the Recreation and Park Society, and the Land Trust Association are among the partners in the effort to get people connected to the outdoors in a safe, fun-filled, educational natural environment.
•National Fishing and Boating Week: This week also happens to be National Fishing and Boating Week.
Rapala, the fishing lure company, is celebrating the week by retelling the story of founder Lauri Rapala, a Finnish fisherman who used the knowledge that big fish eat little fish, particularly wounded little fish, and developed the original Floating Rapala.
Rapala carved the lure from whatever he could find, including balsa wood, cork and used tinfoil, melted photo negatives and other materials to mimic a wounded minnow in the 1930s.
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