Have you ever heard of the term "loving an animal to death"?
In terms of
wildlife care, this is a very real problem, and wildlife carers need to be
careful to avoid this happening. "Loving Wildlife To Death" occurs when
hand-raised wild animals are loved, nurtured and babied by well-meaning
wildlife carers to such an extent that the animal is imprinted on humans, and
does not develop the skills needed to survive in the wild. Animals that are not
allowed to progress through their normal stages of development at the correct
time can remain completely dependant upon humans and will be unable to manage
on their own.
Animals that are kept from their own species and raised alone are far more
likely to imprint on humans. An imprinted animal thinks it is a human, and as
an adult, may direct it's mating behaviour towards humans. Not only can this
cause problems for people, but it is a recipe for disaster for the animal
itself. Imprinted animals have lost all their natural caution or fear of humans
and human environments, and usually end up being killed by nearby cats, dogs,
or even people.
Imprinted animals can often be ostracised or even attacked by
their own species, and they may not be able to find their own food or shelter.
Animals that are released without having been allowed the right time to
exercise in suitable facilities, as well as to be able to become used to
different weather conditions, will simply suffer, and many soon die. It is
often a long cruel death, and is a very sad end for a little animal that was
probably much loved and cared about.
Life is very hard for wildlife at the best
of times, and any animal being returned to the wild must be extremely fit and
healthy, in order to survive. A hand-raised native animal that has never been
given access to a suitable large enclosure or aviary, will have weak muscles,
and birds would also most likely have damaged
feathers. They will not have been able to develop normal behaviour, and if
these animals were to be released straight from a small enclosure, their
survival are not good at all. If not raised with others of their own kind,
their chances of surviving and thriving once freed, become even less.
Any hand-raised wildlife - and also adult wildlife recovering from injuries -
to be housed in proper facilities at the right stage of development or
rehabilitation, in order for the animal to become strong and able to manage
when released. They must have been given the opportunity to be able to recognise, seek out and find their natural foods, shelter
and habitat, through the provision of correct rearing methods, and suitable
facilities, during their time in care. If an imprinted hand-raised released animal that has been hanging
around for a while, suddenly disappears; the chances are that it has been
killed. This is not a successful rearing, rehabilitation or release, but is