Well-meaning members of the public are being urged not to pick up fox cubs and other young animals this summer.
Every year staff at RSPCA wildlife hospitals face the task of raising more than 100 cubs during the spring and summer months.
Many are brought in by people who believe the animals have been abandoned or orphaned. In fact, their parents are often waiting nearby and in many cases the cubs would have been better left alone.
The charity is also urging people to avoid handling fledglings which appear to have been abandoned.
RSPCA wildlife scientific officer Llewelyn Lowen said: “Each year our inspectors and centres are deluged with calls about orphaned animals.
“It is important that people realise they can do more harm than good if they don’t follow the simple rule of withdrawing, observing the animal from a distance and thinking very carefully before intervening.
“Birds in danger should be placed out of harm a short distance away and left completely alone for an hour or so. The parents are likely to be nearby waiting for you to go.
“Even fox cubs that have genuinely lost both parents may not need help as, in some areas, other foxes known as helpers may be present in addition to the breeding pair.
“Placing a bowl of dog food nearby and checking again after 24 hours is a better solution than intervening. Wild animals can suffer greatly through being handled and this should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.”
Anyone who finds an animal in danger is advised to contact their nearest vet or call the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999.