Keep wildlife wild: Best of intentions not always best for wildlife

By DNR Conservation Warden Matt Modjeski, Monroe County

[email protected] or (608) 633-0657

It is human nature to want to help an animal that may appear to need assistance. However, wild animals are raised to live in their natural surroundings in a way that we humans don’t always understand.

Matt Modjeski

Years ago, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources launched the Keep Wildlife Wild campaign to educate on why it is always best to keep our wildlife in the wild where they belong. In those cases where intervention is necessary, such as when a mother animal is killed, DNR-licensed professional wildlife rehabilitators are available to assist.

In mid-May of 2022, I received a phone call from an area resident who said they had recently found two baby Canada geese along the Kickapoo River and took them home. The caller wanted me to advise what to do with the two baby geese.

Bathtub not a home for goslings

Although this caller was a well-intentioned person who wanted to help, this was not the best way to help the animals. The first thing the caller needed to know was they were not authorized to keep the geese.

A strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is affecting domestic and wild bird populations in North America, including in Wisconsin.

Because of this, the goslings could not go to a DNR-licensed professional wildlife rehabilitator. The only option was for the geese to go back to their parents, who were likely near the area where the person found and removed them.

The person agreed to return the geese to where they were found along the river within 24 hours of the call.

I stopped by the caller’s residence 48 hours later to ensure the geese had been returned to the site. I learned the return didn’t happen, and the geese were living in the caller’s bathtub.

After some discussion, the caller agreed to surrender the geese to me. I took the young geese back to where the caller removed them. I released the geese in the area where they were taken so they could be reunited with their parents.

Best place for wildlife is the wild

Avian influenza is caused by a virus that is common in wild birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. There are many different strains of avian influenza, and waterfowl often carry avian influenza viruses naturally without causing disease. There have been rare strains, including the current H5N1 strain, that can cause disease in some wild birds and other animals. Whether a strain is classified as low or highly pathogenic depends on how lethal it is to domestic poultry.

The CDC states that the strain associated with this event (EA H5 HPAI) does not present an immediate public health concern.

During the first week in May of 2022, the DNR reported it received confirmation that three wild red fox kits tested positive for the same strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza. These cases represent the first detections of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild Wisconsin mammals. Similar cases have been confirmed in foxes from Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario, Canada and Europe.

​Monitoring for highly pathogenic avian influenza focuses on species with known susceptibility such as waterfowl, water birds, raptors (especially bald eagles) and avian scavengers (crows, ravens, gulls).

What you can do

The moral of the story here is to do what is best for your health and wildlife by keeping wildlife wild. For more information, visit

Comments are closed.

  • Motorcyclist killed near Cashton

    June 21st, 2022

    A La Crosse motorcyclist was killed in a crash Monday on Highway 33, northwest of Cashton, near Nebraska Avenue in the town of Portland.

    Brookwood students named to fourth-quarter honor roll

    June 17th, 2022

    The following Brookwood Junior/Senior High School students were named to the fourth-quarter honor roll.

    Sparta group seeks to form Monroe County ‘Christ-centered school’

    June 17th, 2022

    Although the spring school-board elections may be over, it appears our neighbors in Sparta still are in disagreement over the matter. 

    Elroy Fair slated for June 22–26

    June 7th, 2022

    The 125th Elroy Fair will kick off Wednesday, June 22.

    Ontario 18-year-old charged in La Crosse shooting death

    June 4th, 2022

    An 18-year-old Ontario man was arrested yesterday in connection with the death of 15-year-old Storm Vondrashek, who was fatally shot May 22 near 1900 S. Seventh St. in La Crosse.

  • RHS holds ceremony for class of 2022

    June 3rd, 2022

    Royall graduates listen to a speaker at Saturday’s ceremony

    BHS holds ceremony for class of 2022

    June 3rd, 2022

    Thirty-nine Brookwood seniors received their diplomas Friday evening.

    Monroe County offering WIC

    June 3rd, 2022

    The Monroe County Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will issue benefits and offer nutrition education in June.

    Royall to offer free meals this summer

    June 3rd, 2022

    The Royall School District will once again offer free summer meals to everyone 18 and younger. 

    Meet the Monroe County Dairy Breakfast family

    June 3rd, 2022

    Hawk High Dairy in rural Norwalk will host the Monroe County Dairy Breakfast on June 4.

    Union Center man dies in town of Forest accident

    May 27th, 2022

    Twenty-seven-year-old Adam Friedl of Union Center died in a Vernon County’s second fatal motor accident on Thursday afternoon.

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Archives