WILD LIFE EMERGENCIES – WHAT TO DO FIRST
Never be over anxious to pick up little critters lying on the ground. More often then not, mom is close and keeping a watchful eye on her young.
The very FIRST thing one should do is STOP for a moment, look around then find yourself a hiding place. Your presence might have scared off the mother. Just because you don’t see her doesn’t mean the baby is abandoned.
A female Deer for instance, will bed her fawn in a place she considers safe and will absolutely remember where the baby is; mom will then go off to tend her own needs and may be gone ALL DAY. Baby squirrels that fall from the nest are usually retrieved by their mother and hauled back home soon, but only if mom feels safe. Young birds that fall to the ground might be “fledging”, which means they are learning how to fly, and mom or dad bird will feed and take care of them until they are capable of supporting themselves.
As with ALL wildlife, if the area has cats, dogs, kids and adults milling about, the mating pair WILL abandon their young. Therefore, watch from a distance before interfering.
Now, after determining that your help IS needed, here’s what to do:
- For small mammals and birds, carefully wrap a soft towel around them and get them on a heat source immediately. Find anything you can to make an appropriate sized hot water bottle out of and put it under your soft towel surrounding the baby. For longer term warmth, put the soft towel surrounding baby on a heating pad which is PREHEATED on a LOW setting. All BABIES NEED WARMTH.
- Do Not Feed anything to any animal right away! Stress management is crucial, not a meal. Remember this: WARM -DRY-QUIET FIRST
- For large mammals and birds, a very different capture method MUST be observed because of your safety and the ever present threat of attack. NEVER EVER PUT YOUR HANDS OR FACE NEAR AN INJURED ANIMAL. Mammals will instinctively bite and some birds will attack you with their very sharp claws or very sharp pointed bill. Losing an eye is too great a price for being impatient.
- Keeping a safe distance from the injured animal, carefully drape a large, heavy blanket over it. This will prevent the animal from escaping and aid in stress management. Keep all onlookers and pets well away and keep them quiet so you aren’t hurt if someone sneezes, coughs or thinks it’s cool to startle you.
- At this point, you shouldn’t do anything else, except maybe assign someone to stand guard over the animal while you contact your most reliable LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR. For your safety and the safety of the animal, instructions from here on will be specific for injury, species and transportation considerations. Don’t take any chances. If you’re injured while helping an injured animal, we are defeating the purpose. Careful and knowledgeable planning are the keys for success, whether you’re a novice or professional.