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Helping Injured Animals

SOME DOs & DONTs ON HELPING WILDLIFE IN TROUBLE

from the Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society

It is not easy being a wild animal. If poachers, pollution, or loss of habitat haven’t gotten you, there is a good chance a vehicle will do the job on one of the nation’s roads. Roads do not usually follow animals’ territorial boundaries. Creatures, going from one part of their “yard” to another often cross roads or other man-made obstacles.

There is a wide-ranging rabies epidemic now. Any mammal is susceptible. At this time, wildlife rehabilitators are not allowed to accept the following species: raccoon, fox, skunk, groundhog, bat, and coyote.

We recommend that you do not handle any wild mammal. If you find an injured or orphaned mammal listed above, stay away and call the PA Game Commission at (570) 675-1143. If you find other mammals or wildlife in trouble, call your nearest licensed rehabilitator (see below).

GENERAL RULES

1. THE FIRST RULE WHEN COMING UPON AN INJURED OR SICK ANIMAL IS TO NOT ENDANGER YOURSELF. Always assume a mammal could have rabies. Animals can also carry other diseases that humans are susceptible to. Any wild creature will be very scared in your presence. Its instinct is to escape or defend itself. Be calm and very careful around wildlife.

2. DO NOT MEDDLE UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING AND ABLE TO GET THE CREATURE TO PROPER CARE. Make sure the animal is truly orphaned or needs help before you intervene. It is illegal to have a live or dead wild creature in your possession, unless you have the proper permits. Only attempt to help if you can contact a properly licensed person promptly (see list below). Fawns are left by their mothers for long periods of time. This is normal. Stay away. Do not call a rehabilitator unless the fawn is injured or under obvious stress.

BIRDS

  • Baby birds fall or are frequently crowded out of the nest. If a baby bird is naked or fuzzy and seems unhurt, try to return it to the nest. Don’t worry about your scent. Birds can’t smell. Babies with almost all their feathers should be left alone unless injured or near a hazard. Their parents are probably caring for them.
  • Place injured or orphaned birds in a dark, quiet, warm spot (70 – 80 degrees) away from children and pets. It is wise to wear gloves for your protection. A cardboard box with small air holes and a soft cloth lining will do fine.
  • NEVER PUT WILD BIRDS IN WIRE CAGES. The wire could cause further injury.
  • Do not attempt to treat the bird yourself. Do not try to give it food or water. Contact a rehabilitator.
  • Raptors (hawks, eagles, owls) have extremely strong and sharp feet. AVOID THE FEET! Wear heavy gloves if you must handle one. A shovel might be used to scoop up the bird and put it into a secure box.

TURTLES

  • If you see a turtle crossing the road, help it get where it is going. Always place it on the side of the road in the direction in which it was headed, never on the side it was coming from. Never lift it by the end of the tail as this will injure the animal. Snapping turtles can be aggressive and have jaws that can break a broomstick. Their long necks can reach almost to the back of their shells. You might be able to herd them, or if you have something they can grasp with their jaws (like a piece of cardboard), you might drag them out of harm’s way.
  • If a turtle is injured, transport it to a wildlife rehabilitator in a dark container with a clean moistened towel. If you find shell fragments, collect them, too. Many can recover, even from rather devastating injuries. Don’t attempt first aid yourself. Always wash your hands after handling turtles.

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

  • For injured and orphaned birds of prey (eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, vultures): The Delaware Valley Raptor Center, Milford, PA (570) 296-6025
  • For all types of birds and other creatures: The Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Stroudsburg, PA (570) 402-0223
  • Complete list of PA rehabilitators
  • Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society: (570) 253-9250

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