State wildlife officials, prompted by two recent cases of people being bitten by bobcat kittens, are warning the public to leave baby wildlife alone.
One of the cases occurred in mid-June when a maintenance worker at a Tucson church discovered three bobcat kittens in an attic area, with no sign of the mother nearby, said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“He removed the kittens from the attic, and then decided to put them back,” Hart said. “He was bitten as he was putting them back. Then the mother returned.”
The absence of a mother is quite common, and isn’t a reason to interfere, according to wildlife officials.
“Baby mammals are typically left alone by their mother for long periods of time while she forages for food and water,” Hart said.
The bobcat bites, as well as the approach of the deer fawning season, make this a time for special caution, officials said.
“In the majority of cases, it is best to leave all baby wildlife alone,” said Raul Vega, regional supervisor for the Game and Fish Department. “People’s desire to help seemingly abandoned animals can have unintended negative consequences.
“Although it seems humane to ‘help’ or ‘rescue’ baby animals perceived to be in need, wildlife reared in captivity by humans — without the benefit of learning from their parents — have a greatly reduced chance of survival if they are released back into the wild.”
If people come across an animal that is obviously injured, it’s best to contact the Game and Fish Department or a qualified wildlife rehabilitator, Hart said.
He said the department recommends rabies treatment for anyone bitten by a wild animal.