It’s that time of year! April showers bring more than May flowers because after “the birds do it and the bees do it,” we may happen upon one of their offspring. There are steps that each one of us can take to ensure that those animals are safe.
Each spring, I prepare a new rescue carrier and leave it in my car so that it’s ready in case I find injured wildlife or an orphaned baby animal. You can make one too. Line a cardboard box with a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, or a folded sheet (animals’ claws can get tangled in towels). Protecting your hands, gently cover the animal with something similar and place him or her in the box (since darkness reduces stress, put the lid on the box or cover it). If you’re at home and can’t get the animal to an expert immediately, place a heating pad (set to the lowest setting) under half of the box. Keep the interior of your car warm while you’re driving. Have handy the name, phone number, and address of a local animal hospital that takes in injured/orphaned wildlife or a reputable and well-established wildlife rehabilitator.
If you find a featherless baby bird on the ground, try to locate the nest nearby and put the baby bird back in it. If the parents don’t show up within an hour (or if you can’t find the nest), rush the animal to your local expert! If the bird has feathers and is hopping on the ground, he or she is likely a fledgling learning to fly, and the parents are surely nearby. Fledglings should be left alone, but keep a sharp eye from a distance for cats, dogs, or people who may pose a threat. As for young mammals, bear in mind that the parents may be giving their offspring space to look for their own food. However if there is any doubt, call the expert for guidance.
It can be tempting to try to rehabilitate baby animals yourself, but don’t do it! You won’t be doing the animals any favors. Upon release, they won’t know how to properly forage, find adequate shelter, or evade predators. Many will succumb to parasites and disease because they have not had the opportunity to build a natural immunity to them. Also, in most cases, it’s against the law to keep a wild animal without the required permits, even if you plan to return them to the wild.
Want to learn more? Visit our “Wildlife Emergencies” Web site.
This post was written by Prime blogger Kris Lecakes Haley and Jodi Minion. Jodi is a Wildlife Biologist for PETA and has her M.S. in wildlife and fisheries sciences. She has broad experience with wildlife rehabilitation and assists with PETA’s animal emergency response team.