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Wildlife Center of Virginia encourages caution during baby season in the Valley

Virginia opossum
Virginia opossum, image submitted by the Virginia Wildlife Center.

Staff, students and volunteers at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a non-profit hospital for native wildlife, are experiencing the very busiest time of year: baby season.

The Center, in Waynesboro, has admitted more than 1,000 individual patients since January 1, 2024, with more than 350 arriving during the past two weeks. Some of the most common species seen during baby season include Virginia Opossums, Eastern Grey Squirrels, a plethora of songbirds and Eastern Cottontail Rabbits. Many of the young animals are hand-fed multiple times a day.

Cottontail Rabbits have been some of the most numerous of baby animals admitted. Since April 1, 2018, cottontails have come through the Center’s doors to receive treatment.

In the spirit of the organization’s mission of teaching the world, Center staff have created an educational video about how to best help young cottontails this spring, viewable on the Center’s YouTube channel.

A number of misconceptions exist about young wild animals and what’s best for their survival. Here are some ways you can help:

If you see a young wild animal you believe is in danger, it’s best to first ask questions before intervening. Despite our natural inclinations, the best chance of survival for a young uninjured animal is often to leave it in its parents’ care. Feeding wildlife can often cause more harm than good.

Help young wildlife by keeping your pet cat indoors. Free-roaming, outdoor cats are responsible for the death of billions of wild birds, mammals, and reptiles each year.

Donate directly to the Wildlife Center of Virginia to provide formula and medications, housing, food and more for young animals this spring.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.