People’s hearts always seems to go out to abused and injured domestic animals; and who can blame them? Only a few heartless souls out there would leave an injured kitten to suffer. Unfortunately, however, this same empathy does not seem to apply to injured wild animals. Why wild and domestic animals are viewed differently can only be guessed; perhaps because people cannot cuddle with a wild animal, they view it as less capable of emotions or feeling fear or pain.
Regardless, for us animal lovers, leaving any injured animal for certain death (being injured in the wild generally means this) is not an option. But unlike domestic animals, knowing how to go about helping an injured wild animal is less intuitive; we don’t know what to expect, what to do, or what not to do. Below you’ll find instructions that will help you the next time you find an injured wild animal.
Assess the Situation – From Afar: Wild animals are fearful of humans just as we generally are of them. Neither humans nor the animals know what to expect of the other; and an injured wild animal is in survival mode meaning that depending on the severity of its injuries, it is even more likely to attack you in what it believes is self-defense. And this could result in injury to you or further injury to the animal. In addition to injury, you must be very careful with wild animals in general. Animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes can carry rabies. Animals like mice, rabbits, birds, and deer can carry diseases and infections.So, what you should first do is examine the animal from afar. Ask yourself the following:
- What exactly about the animal attracted your extended attention? For instance, did you notice a bird because it was attempting to fly unsuccessfully?
- Is the animal an adult or a baby?
- Does it seem aware of its surroundings? Or are its injuries so severe that it is in shock?
- Are there any discernible injuries? What seems to be wrong with the animal?
- Is there anything around the animal that could have caused its injuries?
Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center? This is imperative because you cannot generally take a wild animal to your dog’s veterinarian. So the question is, who should you take it to or ask to pick it up? Wildlife rehab centers are generally non-profits that take in injured and sick wild animals to rehabilitate them and release them back into their natural habitats. They have experience with a wide variety of wild animals and they should be the first place you contact; unless the animal is posing a serious threat to you or your family, do not call animal control unless you are instructed to by the wildlife rehab center. If you don’t know any centers around you, The Wild Life Rehabber Organization is an online resource in which you can locate wildlife rehab centers in your area.
Upon contacting the center, they will ask you a series of questions about the animal. They’ll want to know what type of animal you found, what seems to be wrong with it, and where you found the animal. They will instruct you on what you should or shouldn’t do. Typically, they’ll instruct you not to give the animal food or water, and to keep the animal (if you’re able to cage it yourself) in a quiet, dark place. The center will explain to you how to go about bringing the animal in. Many times, wildlife rehab centers also have people to come and get an animal if you are not able to put it in a carrier yourself.