You may have heard the saying, “If you love a wild animal, leave it alone.” Okay, you probably haven’t heard that. But when you com across an orphaned baby animal, and you are tempted to try and keep it as a pet, it is best to leave it alone.

We get it. A lot of baby animals are completely adorable and it’s easy to fall in love with them. But it is also illegal to keep wildlife as pets. Most wild animals are protected under state and federal laws and cannot be taken from the wild or possessed by unauthorized citizens. Raising a wild animal as a pet is not only against laws and regulations, but it is not doing the right thing for the animal.

For a wild animal to live its best life, it is important for it to remain in the wild. When people bring wild animals into their homes, they have to suppress the  animals natural instincts and adaptations. And those instincts and adaptations can lead to a lot of problems in the home.

It is also very difficult to keep wild animals healthy in captivity. Not only do wild animals have specific dietary needs, but it is very easy for them to get into things that are toxic.

Wisconsin’s captive wildlife regulations allow a citizen to possess a wild animal for up to 24 hours for the purpose of transferring that animal to an appropriately licensed individual, such as a licensed wildlife rehabber or veterinarian. Even though wild animals are cute, they should not be viewed as pets.

When people have tried to raise wild animals on their own, the human impact damage is already done. Often it is too late to return these animals to the wild where they belong.

two baby raccoons in a cage

If you find an orphaned wild animal, please contact the Northwoods Wildlife Center, or your local wildlife rehabilitation organization right away. Please do not wait days, weeks, or months.

Co-existing With Wildlife 

The Northwoods of Wisconsin is an all-season destination for many. From fishing, camping, water-sports, and hiking in the summer, to hunting in the fall and snow sports in the winter, this area attracts a tremendous amount of people who ultimately come into contact with wildlife. This contact has an impact on wildlife and their environment.

Coexistence begins with the understanding of how to share our communities with wild animals. In order to do this, we educate individuals about the wildlife in their environment and provide alternatives to potential or existing problems.



baby owl on ground in leaves

“Two baby raccoons, orphaned due to their mother being hit by a car, were brought in June 3rd. They are doing well in our care and are expected to make a full recovery.”


Baby Raccoons Found on Side of the Road


Two raccoons were brought to the Northwoods Wildlife Center in the early morning of June 3rd. They were found on the side of the road, presumably because their mother was hit by a car leaving them orphaned and underweight. Since being in our care, the two kits are doing well. The larger of the two is taking formula well, while the smaller remains a bit fussy. Rehabbers report that together they make very vocal duo and are quite attached to each other, as they often cry out when separated. Both babies are projected to make a full recovery. They will be kept for a few more months until they are big and strong enough to be released back into the wild. 

For more information on what to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal, visit our Wildlife FAQ. Visit our Blog for updates and more stories like this. 

Wildlife FAQ