Be slow to rescue young critters
GateHouse News Service
With spring baby season quickly approaching, here is some information to determine if a wild animal is in need of assistance. Unnecessary rescues are common, so please be mindful of not turning a desire to help into a kidnapping.
Wildlife that presents itself with obvious injuries or bleeding, parasites crawling on it (flies, maggots, ants), dragging a limb or wing, circling, curled up in a ball, crying, found in a danger zone (domestic animals nearby, close to a road, found in the middle of your yard) or has no fear of human contact is an animal that is in need of rescuing. Capturing adult animals is not advised.
Adult animals that are sick or injured may attempt to bite and large water birds or birds of prey require special handling, so call a wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions.
Young wildlife is often spotted out of their nests learning to forage for food, fly or play. Raccoons, fox kits and coyotes pups will often get lost in this process and will wander too far from their mothers. If these animals appear healthy, leave them alone and recheck the next morning. In most cases, their mothers will find them during evening hours.
Squirrel nests and babies will sometimes get blown out of trees during high winds. Sometimes re-nesting is possible; call a wildlife rehabilitator for instructions on how to do this.
Fawns are often found curled up and alone in the woods, fields or even your yard. If the fawn is quiet with no obvious injuries, leave it alone and return the next morning. If the fawn remains in the same place, call a wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions.
Rabbits will make small, shallow nests in odd places, sometimes in the middle of your lawn. If the nest has been disturbed by a dog or cat or small, eyes-closed bunnies are visible outside of the nest, call a wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions.
Young birds starting to feather will often be visible under trees; they are learning to forage and fly, and the parents are usually close by feeding them. If they are in a danger zone, they can be placed under brush or bushes for safety. Observe and watch for parents attending them. If none are present after an hour, call a wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions. Unfeathered birds found on the ground need rescuing.
The first thing to do when rescuing an orphan baby is to get the animal warm. Using gloves, gently place the animal in an appropriate-sized container; boxes, small mammal cages or laundry baskets work well. Place old T-shirts, or a blanket in the bottom of the container. Lightly cover the baby with material and cover the container with a sheet, towel or lid. If using a lid, make sure there are air holes. Birds can be placed in paper bags with an air hole punched in the top and then the top of the bag can be rolled down to secure it. Put paper towels in the bottom of the bag for footing. Place the container in a warm, quiet, dark area away from pets and children.
Keep handling at a minimum—it’s stressful for the animal, and there may be disease or parasite concerns for you and your pets. Do not try to feed the animal and never feed a wild animal cow’s milk. Then call a wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions. The sooner wildlife get to a rehabilitator, the better are their chances of survival.