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April 1, 2014

MADISON -- Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp today launched a multi-agency partnership dedicated to helping citizens understand how to best help their wildlife neighbors.

The initiative is called "Keep Wildlife Wild," and Stepp says the partnership is built upon the best part of Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin is filled with people who want to help, who want to do the right thing for wild animals," Stepp says. "That's what makes this state great."

However, Stepp says, well-intentioned citizens may not understand how best to help a wild animal when viewed as possibly being injured or orphaned and in need to some kind of human intervention.

"The top option is to leave an animal that is not injured in its natural world - where it lives," Stepp said. "If you see an animal and you can see it is injured, please do not touch the animal and call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or the DNR for help."

Stepp said chances are in many cases the animal may not need any assistance from humans, but people sometimes equate what a human may need to what an animal may need.

"While the intention is admirable and generally comes from a core value for compassion, the reality is such help could cause harm to a wild animal or break up a wildlife family," Stepp said. "No one wants that to happen - especially the people who want to help."

The Keep Wildlife Wild initiative is intended to help prevent unfortunate situations that may result in unintended consequences to wild animals or the people trying to help.

"This is a good time to review these important points about our wildlife with your family, too, as our wild animals about to start having their young," Stepp said. "Observing wildlife is a fun and exciting outdoor event you can enjoy with your family and friends."

Joining the DNR in this long-term public outreach effort include the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology and several licensed Wisconsin wildlife rehabilitators from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Advisory Council. . Online information, social media messaging, Project Wild curriculum, and public appearances by licensed wildlife rehabilitators and DNR experts are just a few of the outreach activities as the initiative will use.

"We'll be issuing more information about how Wisconsin citizens can help Keep Wildlife Wild in Wisconsin, and how to help when help is really needed," Stepp said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tami Ryan, Bureau of Wildlife Management, 608-266-3143; Joanne Haas, Public Affairs Management, 608-209-8147

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 01, 2014

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