First – Does This Animal Need Help?
Every year, people “rescue” hundreds of wild animals – especially babies – which were actually doing just fine!
Being captured and relocated is stressful even for healthy wildlife, so before you pick up an animal, take a minute to observe its condition:
What kind of animal is it?
Where is it currently located?
What is it doing?
What appears to be wrong with it?
Did you see it get injured or fall from a nest?
Is it in immediate danger (e.g., injured on a busy road?)
Yes, may need help
- Visibly bleeding or limping
- Unable to fly or run away when you approach
- Tangled up (in fishing line, power cables, etc.)
- Very young, with no parents in sight
Time to step in! Call us at (541) 485-1320 to speak with staff.
No, probably fine
- Flying or walking normally
- Able to run/fly away when you approach
- Not visibly impaired
- A fawn alone (read more here)
- A very small opossum alone – Virginia opossums leave their parents at only 5 months old!
This osprey nestling is just a few days old, far too young to be out of the nest.
This adult crow is alert and walking around, and a common sight in urban areas – no need for alarm!
What You Can Do
You’ve assessed the situation and this animal looks like it could use a hand. Now what?
- Call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and follow their instructions. (To find the nearest wildlife care center, call your local Humane Society, veterinarian, or state wildlife agency such as the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife or Dept. of Natural Resources).
- Contain the animal in a clean, dry, covered box. Line the box with newspaper or a towel without holes or stringy edges. This will absorb any fluids and give the animal better footing.
- Keep the animal in a quiet, dark place, away from family or pets, preferably at a warm temperature (80°-90°). (Ways to keep animals warm: adding a heat pack wrapped in a towel, placing half the box on a heating pad set to low, storing animal in a warm room. Be careful avoid to overheat animals in hot weather, especially birds!)
- Resist the urge to peek in the box! This only adds to the animal’s stress. Remember, the animal does not know you are trying to help it.
- Get the animal to a rehabilitation center ASAP!
- Offer food or fluids. This can kill the animal!
- Keep the animal any longer than is absolutely necessary. Get it to a wildlife hospital!
- Try to apply a tourniquet.
- Try to immobilize or set broken bones.
- Try to stop bleeding unless instructed to do so by a rehabilitator.
What is shock?
Shock occurs when not enough oxygen is being delivered to an organism’s tissues, usually because of insufficient blood flow. It is a common side effect of major physical trauma and can result in major organ failure or death if not treated promptly.
Symptoms of shock in animals
A wild animal that is content to sit on your finger or in your hand is not being friendly; it is usually in shock and/or paralyzed with fear. Other signs of shock may include rapid breathing, vomiting, shivering, dilated pupils, and skin that is cold to the touch.
Minimizing effects of shock
Eliminating unnecessary stressors is the single best thing you, as a rescuer, can do to help reduce shock in a wild animal. Handling, noise, and cold temperatures all contribute to an animal’s stress. Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet environment until you can safely transport it to a rehabilitation facility.
- Be aware of environmental hazards when approaching an injured wild animal – traffic, uneven ground, etc. You don’t want to get yourself hurt while helping another!
- If the animal is on the ground, toss a jacket or blanket over it and bundle it inside. This will immobilize the animal, remove visual stressors, and make it less likely that you will be being scratched or bitten. However, please do not risk your safety by trying to handle adult raccoons, herons or large raptors. Protective eyewear and gloves are needed.