What to Do if You Find an Injured or Abandoned Animal
by Oconee River Land Trust - De'Andra on February 25th, 2020

Photo Source: squeaksandnibbles.com
As the spring season approaches and temperatures rise, the chances that you may encounter young wildlife that appears “abandoned” increases as well. 

Tempting as it may seem, it is best to resist the urge to rescue any baby animal that you see alone. In many cases there is an adult animal nearby that the baby belongs to, even though you may not see it. Animals like deer and rabbits spend a lot of time away from their babies in order to decrease the chances of a predator finding their young. 

Bringing wildlife into the home poses a risk for both humans and domesticated pets that may reside in the home as well. Even if an animal looks healthy, wildlife can transmit life-threatening diseases such as rabies, and can carry parasites such as roundworms, lice, fleas, and ticks that can cause other diseases in humans and pets.
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There are some cases where an animal has truly been orphaned or injured, in which case it does need help. These signs include:
  • The animal is brought to you by a cat or dog
  • The animal is clearly bleeding
  • The animal has an apparent or obvious broken limb
  • A bird is featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground
  • The animal is shivering
  • You can see what appears to be the animal’s dead parent nearby
  • The animal is crying and wandering all day long
Even if you do encounter an animal with one of these signs, without proper training or a license in wildlife rehabilitation, you should not attempt to care for wildlife. If you encounter an animal that appears to be injured or orphaned, the best step to take is to contact a local, licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you live in Georgia, you can follow this link, scroll down to the “Wildlife Rehabilitation” section, and click the link titled “Wildlife Rehabilitator List.” If you do not reside in Georgia, you can use this link to find the Wildlife Rehabilitators in your state. If you cannot locate a rehabilitator, try contacting an animal shelter, humane society, or animal control agency. 
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Once you've contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and their physical condition as best as you can. Don’t try to handle an animal without consulting a wildlife professional first as even small animals can cause harm. Unless you are told otherwise, here's how you can prepare an animal for a comfortable transport while you’re waiting for help to arrive:
  1. Put the animal in a safe container. For most animals, it is fine to use a cardboard box or similar container. Make sure to punch holes into the box or container for air for (not while the animal is in the box) from the inside out and line the box with an old T-shirt or other soft cloth.
  2. Before touching the animal, be sure to wear thick gloves and cover the animal with a towel or pillowcase as you scoop them up gently and put them in the container.
  3. Don’t give the animal food or water.The wrong food could cause the animal to choke, trigger serious digestive problems or cause aspiration pneumonia. Many injured or abandoned animals are in shock and force-feeding can kill them.
  4. Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children and any noise (this includes  the TV and the radio)—until you can transport the animal if instructed by the wildlife professional. Keep the container away from any direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat.
  5. If instructed to transport the animal by a wildlife professional, do so as soon as possible. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum as this extra noise can cause stress to the animals. If they’re injured or orphaned, they’re already in a compromised condition. Keep their world dark and quiet to lower their stress level and increase the chances of them surviving comfortably.

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