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Don't "Adopt" Wildlife

Why is it wrong to adopt a wild baby if its mother is dead or missing? Wild animals don't make good pets, and it is illegal to possess many wild animals without a valid state or federal permit. If you encounter young wildlife, leave it where you find it.

Some points to remember:

  • Baby animals are rarely abandoned.

  • The wildlife parent is afraid of people and will retreat when you approach.

  • If the baby animal is left alone, the parent will usually return.

  • In addition, parent animals cannot constantly attend their young.

  • Often they spend many hours each day gathering food.

  • Wild animals, if they are to survive in captivity, often require highly specialized care.

  • Without such care they will remain in poor health and may eventually die.

  • As wild animals mature, they can become dangerous to handle and damaging to property.

  • Animals are better off in their natural habitat where they are free to reproduce and carry on their species.

  • If a wild animal is broken to captivity, it will probably die if returned to the wild.

  • Many wild animals are nocturnal.

  • This means that they are not active until after dark.

  • They sleep during the day and can be quite disturbing at night while people sleep.

  • Native wildlife carry mites, ticks, lice, fleas, flukes, roundworms, tapeworms, rabies, distemper, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and skin diseases.

  • Some of these diseases can be transmitted to humans.

  • It is illegal to possess many wild animals without a valid state or federal permit.

See theWildlife Code of Missouri below for details, or contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102.

What should I do if I find a baby animal that appears to be orphaned or injured? Leave the animal where you found it.

For more information about wildlife in Missouri visit