rehab wildlife

"I found a baby animal, now what?"

Posted:3/29/2018 Linn

Spring is here and with it an onslaught of calls with the same message: "I found a baby animal. What do I do?" There is temptation to pet, touch, or “help” furred or feathered babies. As hard as it is, usually the best thing to do the next time you see baby wildlife that appears orphaned is leave it alone. Stand back and observe the situation, most of the time the human desire to help or “rescue” baby, orphaned, or injured wildlife can have unintended consequences for the animal, including death. Spring is a busy time for wildlife parents, who typically leave their young alone, sometimes for long periods, throughout the day. This does not mean that the parent is not nearby and very conscious of where they left their babies. If you find a baby bird that is not fully feathered or its eyes are closed, return the bird to its nest. If it is not possible to access the nest or it was damaged in the fall, place the nestling in an artificial nest at a lower location as close as possible to the original location. Artificial nests can be made from a small basket or box lined with dry grass, soft cloth or shredded paper. Minimal human handling will not discourage the parents from caring for a baby bird. The parents may be wary of the new location or nest, and might take a few hours before they approach but they will return. If you determine that a wild animal does need assistance, a wildlife rehabilitator is the best person to call. A rehabilitator can explain what to do to keep the animal safe, quiet, warm, and protected until you can get the appropriate help. These experts care for injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat. It’s important to keep cats, dogs, and children away from the animal while determining if the animal needs help or remains in the area. Dogs and cats are predators, so it’s up to you to make sure they can’t harm newborn wildlife. Never attempt to rehabilitate a wild animal yourself. It is against the law to keep wild animals unless you have permits to do so, even if you plan to release the animal. Wickiup Hill Learning Center is not permitted to accept injured wildlife but we can direct you to someone who is. Keep these phone numbers handy this spring: Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project hotline number 319-277-6511 for orphaned or injured wildlife. For injured raptors, such as hawks or owls, call R.A.R.E (Raptor Advocacy Rehabilitation & Education) at 319-248-9770 or email You can also find them on Facebook. Both of these organizations are primarily operated by volunteers and donations. Please leave a detailed message and be patient.