Spring and summer's when we all venture outside after a long winter.

We'll begin to see and may even encounter baby wild animals

and juvenile young.


It is important to remember that most of the time

these animals are NOT in need of being 'rescued'.


It is difficult to resist that urge to intervene, but you need to use your head,

not your heart, when you encounter wild animals.


Don't jump to an immediate conclusion that it needs to be rescued. 

That decision can cause you to inadvertently kidnap that baby animal

and take it from it's mother. That type of misguided reaction can cause it's death.


Before you intervene and pick that baby animal up...

check these general guidelines to help you establish

if that animal needs to be brought to a rehabilitation facility. 

  • Is it bleeding?

  • Are the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and bottom end clear of any discharges or strong smells?

  • Does it look 'bloated' around the abdomen or anywhere on the body?

  • Visually split the animal in half - is one half noticeably different than the other?

  • Are there any obvious wounds, puncture marks, scratches, lumps or swelling anywhere?

  • Is it wet, or oily/greasy looking? Does it have an unusual odour to it?

  • Is one leg/limb 'crooked' in comparison to the other?  Is it dragging a leg or both back legs?

  • Is one wing dragging or drooping? (It's normal for fledged baby birds to raise their wings and flutter them  begging for food, and some will sit with both wings drooped.)

  • Is animal walking abnormally and not putting equal weight on all limbs or legs?

  • Is it trembling, shaking or does it have it's head tilted to one side?

  • Is it walking in circles?

  • If the eyes are open are they white?

  • Does it make a 'clicking' noise when it breathes?

  • Is it sneezing?

  • Is it gasping for breath?  (If it is tipping its head back and periodically gasping hard for a breath, this is called agonal breathing and it usually signals impending death.  You will see this when it cannot hold up it's head or support it's neck and then the entire body heaves for a breath.  It is starving for oxygen but there is nothing you can do as this is the end stage of life. Take the animal to the nearest humane society or animal control or veterinary emergency clinic if you should find one in this condition.)

  • Is it dehydrated?  Do a skin turgor test to determine this. (Never try this with any rabies vector species, you may get hurt and wear gloves, regardless of what the animal is.  Never handle wildlife with bare hands!) Remember that some species do have wrinkly skin. Skin turgor can't be determined visually.

  • Is it cold to the touch, curled up in a ball, or shivering?

  • Is it crawling with fleas, lice, ticks or mites? (Tick infestations in mammal ears begins inside the ear passages, near the ear canal, and progresses outwards from there. As ticks multiply they will begin to attach next to each other and resemble a reversed corn cob.)

  • Are there maggots on it or in it's eyes, ears, nostrils or rectum?

  • Has it been in your cat or dog's mouth? (Cat's saliva contains pastuerella bacteria - untreated, it is a death sentence for wildlife.  REMEMBER, cats belong indoors!)

  • Is the bird sitting on the ground, with its feathers fluffed up, itís head tucked under or near a wing and shivering?

  • You have put the animal back where you found it and left it there (without hovering over it every few seconds) and returned 24-48 hrs later and it's still there.

    • You put the fawn right back where you found it, and have totally left the area, and when you return 24-48 hours later, it's still there.

    • You've left the litter where you found it, returning 24-48 hours later and only some of the babies have been moved by the mother.

    • You've left the litter of rabbits where you found them and covered the nest with twigs, and 48 hours later, sticks remain untouched and babies are now cold.

  • It's found with its siblings and/or parent and some, or all of them are dead.

  • It was found in a swimming pool, under the hood of a car, or is stumbling around in the middle of a roadway in an area where there is heavy traffic.

If you answered no to the above questions,

the animal does not need any intervention from a human.


Check the mammal and bird pages for more specific suggestions and to find out how to put it back and give it a chance to rejoin its family or for the parent to reclaim it.



A few words in general about folks who are unwilling

to put the animal back and attempt to allow it's mother

to reclaim it because there are 'cats and dogs'

(or possibly other predators) in the area:

  • It is true that a 'cat or dog' might get it.  As a pet owner, and an authorized wildlife rehabilitator, I understand the importance of keeping my cats indoors at ALL times, and my dogs on a leash. I see the damage inflicted on wildlife by feral cats and free roaming pet cats on a daily basis.  It's the law for dogs to be on  leash when they are off their owners property, and for pet cats who are let outside, to be IN their owners yard only, and it's also called responsible pet ownership. Domestic animals are by no means considered to be a part of 'nature'.  They are not meant to live outdoors.

  • In spite of the fact that the wild baby animal ~might be~ taken by a predator, an attempt MUST be made to allow it to be raised by it's natural parent - not a substitute human being.  To be raised by it's own mother is the BEST chance that animal has for survival.


Safety first....always!

  • NEVER attempt to capture a wild animal who is acting aggressively, or is in an area where your actions to rescue it, might endanger you.  Call your local humane society, animal control or police department for assistance. Do not put yourself at risk for injury.  

  • If ever you feel that public health and safety is at risk because of a situation involving an injured wild animal, call your local police to help you secure the area and ask people to stay far back. Having a loud audience, some who are trying to flash pictures at the scene, can badly frighten any injured wild animal and cause it to panic.


Before you rush out to 'rescue' any wild animal, please read this!


Definition of the word 'rescue'.


"To remove something (or someone)

from a dangerous or harmful situation."


When you find a wild baby animal, and you look around,

ask yourself precisely what is it that

you think you are 'rescuing' this animal from? 


Where is the real (not perceived) danger? 

Where is the real (not perceived) harm? 

If you cannot identify a REAL danger or harm,

then you are not rescuing -

you are kidnapping that wild animal from a natural parent. 



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