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.