What should you do if you come across injured wildlife?

This summer hundreds (maybe thousands) of kids in the Delaware Valley area will find and "rescue" injured animals. Most find (and many bring home) baby birds and baby rabbits. What should you do if you find an injured animal?

When Rob and I find an injured animal most of the time we take itto our local wildlife rehabilitator. Sometimes we callfor help because theanimal is one we can't handle. For example, mammals are dangerous to handlethey can bite and they can carry rabies. Sometimes injured birds are in an area we can't access or they are too large and dangerous to handle (such as hawks).In those cases, we call a wildlife rehabilitator to ask their advice on what to do.They might call the state or someonebetter qualified to handle the "rescue". Sometimes when we find an injured animal we do nothing at all.There are times when doing nothing is appropriate.We certainly wouldn't interfere when an animal is injured as a result of being preyand the predator is nearby waiting to eat his prey.

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Whether we intervene or not firstwe take a minuteor two (unlessan injured animalis bleeding)to observe and assess the situation.There are animal behaviors we don't always understand. Sometimes we see animals that we think need our help when in fact, they are only going about the business of being animals. Where do you think we got the expression; playing possum ? Even birds have strange behaviors; some species sunbathe and others are into anting (lying on an anthill to allow the ants to scatter through their feathers). In both of these cases the bird couldlook dead or near dead to our eyesfor a few minutes as they lie motionless splayed out on the ground.So first we watch to see ifthe injured animal moves. Then, if we determine the animal needs assistance, we call a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions on collecting and transporting an injured or sick animal and take it to them right away. We don't try to feed or care for wild animals or birds. It is against illegal in most states to possess wild animals without a permit, even if your intention is to try to help it. law to We don't feed the animal anythingnot even waterunless the rehabber tells us otherwise.

Here's a very helpful set of instructions on what you should do if you find a baby bird or mammal. It is reprinted with permission from Healers of the Wild by Shannon K. Jacobs.You might want to print it ourand put it on your refrigerator door. Put a copy in your glovebox, too.Then you'll have it nearby if you should find an animal on the roadside that was hit by a car.

Click here to locatea wildlife rehabilitator near you.Print your local list and keep at copy at home and in your car, too. Alternately, Google "what should you do if you find an injured wild animal" or "wildlife rehabilitators, (your county)" and print that list.

Here's a little photo log of some of the animals we've rescued. If you rescue an injured animal keep in mind that all rescues don't have a happy ending. Prepare yourself and your kids for the possibility that your rescued animal might not survive despite your best efforts. And please, don't get discouraged. Continue to help wildlife in ways that you can: rescuing injured animals, creating healthy habitats, and helping to save our planet!

This Great Horned Owl youngster (and "owlet) had fallen from it's nest about 60 feet off the ground. Thinking we we're helping it, we brought it home and called a wildlife rehabber. The rehabber told us to put the owl back immediately! Great Horned Owlets are sometimes called "jumpers" because they jump from the nest before they can fly. They might fall or they might just jump around from branch to branch (called "branching") in their tree. Either way, the parents will continue to feed and care for the owlet. Best not to interfere. Also best not to upset the parents which have huge, strong talons!

While kayaking, we spotted this juvenile (we could tell from the plumage) Herring Gull on the shores of our lake sitting next to a house cat! Curious, we paddledtoward it. As we paddled, it watched us and then it got in the water and paddled toward me! Then it jumped on the front of my kayak! Because this behavior was so unusual, we decided to paddle back to the ranger station. If the bird stayed on board and continued to act in a strange manner, we would put it in a box and take it to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Delaware. On the way to the ranger station, the Herring Gull passed out and fell into the water. Rob retrieved it and when he did so easily, we knew the bird was really sick. We took the weak, semi-conscious bird to Tri State. They told us it had botulism.

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Posted in Outdoor Activities Post Date 12/14/2015


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