BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Health along with the Department of Natural Resources wants to remind Marylanders not to feed or pet wildlife and to observe them from a safe distance.

“Though attempts to care for wild animals are often made with good intentions, doing so can pose serious risks to both the animals and humans involved,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “Any wild animal, especially young wildlife, should be left alone in their natural environment. It is safe to observe wildlife from a distance, but do not attempt to feed, pet or rescue any wild animal.”

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This reminder comes as reports of captive wildlife situations continue to increase. Maryland law prohibits the possession of certain wild animals including deer, raccoons and foxes. To date, 82 animals have been diagnosed with rabies in the state this year.

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Because of this, Marylanders are advised to stay away from wild animals due to associated risks.

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If residents encounter a sick, injured or nuisance wild animal, they should:

  • Maintain a safe distance and do not attempt to touch, pet, or feed the animal
  • Do not “rescue” or relocate wildlife
  • Contact a licensed professional to handle the situation and report the instance to the DNR/U.S. (Department of Agriculture (USDA) wildlife hotline at 1-877-463-6497)

CBS Baltimore Staff