What To Do If You Find Wildlife in Need

Monday, June 21, 2021


Before I get into any of this, I'm going to tell you that you should always call an expert if you are unsure of what to do and don't feel comfortable.  But that basics of this post are meant to help you decide what to do in various circumstances where you may come upon wildlife in need.

So you found a baby animal....first thing to do is NOT touch it.  First you need to observe and determine what's going on.

If it's a baby deer and it looks to be flattened out trying to hide, leave it go.  Unless you see a deceased mother deer around, the mom is probably off getting food and will return soon.  Female deer actually do this often.  The baby is left to bed down and wait for her.  If the baby deer isn't in obvious distress (bleeding, or crying out in pain), you should move along.  If it's in the middle of the road, and you can SAFELY move it to the side, do so.  Otherwise, leave it be.  Nature knows what it's doing.

If it's a baby bird you find, you need to figure out how old it is.  There are nestlings, which have no feathers and are usually covered in down.  They can't be out of the nest because they can't fly or regulate temperature so they need their parents.  If it's on the ground and obviously injured, call a wildlife rescue in your area to get advice.  If it's on the ground and NOT injured, look around for a nest or for a frantic parent.  DO NOT believe the stupid old wive's tail that if you touch a baby bird it's parents won't come back.  If you have gloves (for your own safety) grab them and pick the nestling up and return him to his nest.  If his nest is very high up to a place you can't reach, try to fashion your own makeshift nest and place it as close to the original as possible. You can look online for tips to make your own nest.  Once you leave, the baby will cry, and the parents will hear this and tend to the baby.  I've done this successfully before.  

If the baby has feathers but can't fly yet, and it isn't injured, it's likely a fledgling.  They often leave the nest to explore and will be fed from their parents on the ground for a few days until their wings are ready.  If you see parents around, leave it be.  Again though, anytime you're unsure, call a wildlife rescue for advice FIRST.

If you find a turtle in the middle of the road...
If you're able to safely stop and help it you may do so, but if you aren't 100% sure it's not a snapping turtle, stop and get a stick or call for help.  You don't want to lose a finger.  A turtle in the middle of the road should be safely moved off the road on the side it was heading towards.  Don't try to relocate or place it in the opposite direction.  They know where they want to go.  Also, don't throw it in water.  There are some turtles that can't swim like box turtles.  So don't assume anything.

If you find a frog or toad in your pool or window well, ensure what type it is by doing an internet search.   Frogs need water so if you relocate it, make sure it's next to a water source.  If it's a toad, relocate it to a safe and shady area.  Don't throw it in water because toads don't swim like frogs do. In fact toads drink by sitting in water and absorbing it through their skin. 

If you find an injured animal, call your local police department immediately.  Ask them who to speak with if it's not them.  Report the location, a description, and your contact information.  Don't try to intervene on your own in case you get bitten by a scared animal that's in pain.  Trust me. 

These are just some of the most common critters that people find and don't know what to do with.  When in doubt, call a wildlife rescue near you FIRST.  Take their advice.  They also know the correct authorities to call if need be.

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