Although it is always best to “let nature take its course” if you need to report an injured animal, please keep in mind that we are not a rehabilitation centre for wildlife. We will always respond for injured animals, but they will be transported to a proper/licensed rehab location if the injury is severe enough; if the injury is superficial, the animal will be released back into the wild.
Reporting Injured Wildlife
When confronted by an injured animal, call Animal Services and we will come out to assess and, if needed, transport the animal to the appropriate location. Always remember that these animals are WILD, and because of shock or injury they may seem “friendly”; this is in no way an invitation to touch the animal – it is in pain, and incorrect handling can result in further injury to the animal or injury to you.
- Whenever there is significant risk to your own safety do not attempt to assist the animal on your own in any capacity. Large mammals, birds of prey and herons are animals that should only be handled by wildlife professionals.
- Do not handle the animal with your bare hands. Wild animals carry fleas, mites, bacteria, viruses and parasites that can harm you, your children, or your pets.
- Try to limit the amount of stress for the animal. Please do not repeatedly pick up and hold a wild animal and do not invite other people to "come look".
What to do with abandoned animals?
The first step is to determine if it is in fact abandoned. Many animals leave their young to search for food or encourage them out of nests/dens to teach them all the important lessons they will need to survive in the wild.
The most common “abandoned” animal we respond to is fledgling birds.
Little birds are often seen with slightly dishevelled feathers, gaping mouths or hoping around – seemingly by themselves. This is quite natural and all part of what starts a young bird on its way to becoming a fully functioning member of bird society.
So do baby birds on the ground need help?
If the little birds have all their feathers and resemble miniature adults, LEAVE THEM ALONE. They are fledglings and have permanently left the nest.
It is also important to note that you should never feed possible abandoned baby wildlife. Giving a baby the wrong food can lead to sickness and even death. What they need is their parent or to be taken to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre as soon as possible. Not all birds eat worms... and not all babies can survive on cow’s milk!
Common Myths concerning Abandoned Animals
Myth: If you find a fawn (baby deer) alone, it has been orphaned!
Fact: It is quite common to see fawns alone. The babies, lacking any scent to attract predators and incapable of keeping up with the doe in dangerous situations, are essentially “parked” in various (if at times, peculiar) locations. A truly abandoned fawn will wander about, often crying for an absent parent.
Myth: Baby bunnies in my yard have been abandoned!
Fact: Mother rabbits only visit the babies 2-3 times per day to avoid attracting predators. If the nest is intact and there are no visible wounds, remove any pets and leave them there. When the eyes are open and they’re as big as the palm of your hand, they are independent. Rabbits are very sensitive to human smell, so it is always best to resist the temptation to touch the babies – mom may abandon them if your sent is on them.
Myth: If you touch a baby bird, the parents will abandon him/her!
Fact: Birds have a limited sense of smell, but a strong bond to their young. Parent birds will not abandon chicks handled by humans. If a baby bird falls from its nest, and is not well feathered, the best thing is to put it back in the nest. If the nest is destroyed, you can create one using a butter container. Poke some holes in the bottom (to avoid drowning the babies if it rains), line the container with grass or the remaining nest, and tack up into the tree. (Be sure the container is not too deep as the parents are reluctant to fly into anything they can’t see out of.)
More wildlife information provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources: