Webster defines imprinting as “a lasting effect”, and this is true. I define the Imprinting of Wild Animals as “The cruel and inhumane act of purposely forcing a lifestyle on a wild animal that is not their own”.

What is it about humans that cause them to do this, is it the “macho” touch, or just the overwhelming urge to have a unusual pet or a combination of both? Whichever, to put it mildly, it is absolute stupidity on the person or persons.

Let me put it in perspective. You find a baby wild bird or mammal, first thought in mind is it is lost or in need of attention. This is reasonable to this point, don’t touch it. Stay back and observe. Most often the parents are close by and taking care of it, also stay far away from it as you can as the parents may be observing you and are afraid to move. If necessary mark the spot and return later, most likely the baby will be gone with its parents.

Leave Mother nature work on its own. If you are in doubt, contact a local Wildlife Rehabilitator immediately. Do not disturb the animal or bird.

The other side of the coin, your have the “Bunny Hugger Syndrome”. I have just got to take this baby home and make it a Pet. I have found it and it is mine. You were just hit in the head with ten pounds of stupid. I hate to be so forceful in my writing, but I am so adamantly opposed to these type people. First of all, that animal or bird is not yours. It belongs to the mother and is protected by State and Federal Laws. Second, it is wild and if you try and tame it, you will probably in the short run, KILL IT. Mother nature builds into wildlife something called “Stress” or simply put, a way out of this world without suffering pain. You will cause this to happen most of the time.

I am getting off the subject. Lets say you take the Baby and now you on your way home, much heavier with the ten pounds of illegal that you are
are carrying. Look around, the mother is probably watching you. But what the heck you have your trophy. You are going to nurture it just like it’s mother. (Don’t bet on it.)

Have you given thought to what type of disease this animal or bird may have? Do you know that some animals harbor RABIES up to three years without showing signs of it. Well, you are not going to worry about that. Have you ever seen a animal die from Rabies, I have, it is often called, self mutilation, in other words they chew on their bodies until death occurs.

Still not worried. Well, to shorten this, lets say you do successfully raise your “Present”. What have you accomplished. Number one, Your have ruined its natural way of life. Oh yes it may look happy to you, but you have killed its ability to be wild. You have IMPRINTED IT. Now aren’t you proud. It is now doomed. Don’t try and turn it loose because it can not fend for itself, or find food for itself, it is dependent on the human hand. Picture this, a person walking out in the woods or park with his child and a WILD animal that imprinted by a human,(I will use a raccoon as a example), comes running up to them looking for food or attention. This animal is wild to them and the first thing they are going to do is defend themselves and surly kill, or severely injure the animal or bird. And YOU were responsible. What a waste. Of course you will not be around to see the carnage, but it will surely happen. Now you can brag to your friends on the splendid thing you did for nature.

I can not express myself any better on my feelings of “Imprinting Wildlife”. If this does not open your eyes then I have failed. JUST DON’T TRY AND TAME WILDLIFE.

Written By: Thomas Rudge, Wildlife Rehabilitator - Orlando Florida.