Local wildlife rescue organizations say they are receiving more calls from citizens concerned about potentially injured or orphaned animals than in previous years.
Some volunteers believe that the drought is causing a decline in food and water sources at higher elevations and forcing many wild critters into developed areas this summer.
"Phone calls have probably doubled this year," said Nina Resnik, director of Rose Wolf Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Sonora.
Resnik said she's received at least 100 phone calls since June solely from people who have stumbled across fawns on their properties.
"I think people are seeing more this year because there's no water so they are going closer to people's homes," she said.
Resnik is currently caring for five fawns, seven raccoons, six possums, two wood rats and a marmot at her home, which doubles as the organization's rescue center. She fills out a chart to keep track of the different feeding times for the various animals, some of which are fed at night and others during the day.
Sightings in developed areas typically occur when people unwittingly attract the animals to their homes by leaving food and water out for stray cats, Resnik said, adding that these types of calls have been on the rise this year as more animals branch out farther from their normal habitat.
"I've been doing this for over 25 years and know what questions to ask when people call me," she said. "Is the mom there? Is there water there? What food sources are there? Did dogs attack the animal?"
Resnik said the questions help her determine if the animal is truly in need of help before she responds. For example, she recently saved one fawn that had been attacked by a dog, and rescued two others after their mother was hit by a car.
Rather than the public taking matters into their own hands, Resnik encourages people to give her a call whenever they have a question or concern regarding injured or orphaned wildlife.
"They should call us or their veterinarians," she said.
For the complete story, see the Aug. 15 edition of The Union Democrat.