A warning has been issued from a local wildlife sanctuary about feeding young animals.

The Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau posted a story on Saturday about a baby raccoon that had to be put down because someone had fed it food it was not ready for.

Jan Kingshott is Director of Animal Care and told MyMuskokaNow.com that she understands people’s hearts are in the right place, but their actions can be harmful.

“The main issue is what they are putting into the animal and how much damage it’s going to do,” she said.

In the case of the baby raccoon, wet cat food had been given, which in a healthy animal might be okay, but in a starving and dehydrated creature, it is all too much.

Aspen Valley notes most babies in the first few weeks of life are still drinking mother’s milk.

The centre is currently caring for over 200 baby animals including 100 raccoon kits and 70 baby squirrels. Other animals in the centre’s care include foxes, otters and beavers. Live in volunteer staff are feeding their charges around the clock.

A bigger issue is when a young animal has stopped feeding after losing its mother and then getting fed by a well-meaning person they can suffer from re-feeding syndrome.

“We totally understand (that people want to help) and that’s great,” she said. “We just want to make sure we are doing the right thing by the animal and if they could call us first then there is a better chance of that happening.”

The post shows sanctuary worker Chantal feeding a baby raccoon and it is explained staff tried to help the kit but it had been fed prior to drop-off.

“That ultimately caused damage that could not be reversed,” the sanctuary reported.

Kingshott says the situation is not uncommon and it asks people to check with a rehab centre before attempting to feed a wild animal.

You can check out the Aspen Valley website by clicking here or call their emergency number seven days a week at 705-644-4122. Kingshott says donations from the public are critical this time of year with so many animals in their care.