Spring is here, and that means that baby wild animals are starting to pop up everywhere you look. During their first few weeks of life, many of these little ones might, unfortunately, be separated from their mothers because of treacherous weather conditions, fall out of their nests, or be stalked by cats who are allowed to roam outdoors. Guardians should keep cats indoors, which is the safest option both for cats and for wildlife. It can often be difficult to tell if a situation is normal or if it’s an emergency and interference is necessary. Always be sure that your help is needed before intervening. If you see a young animal, it is important to resist the temptation to involve yourself unless the animal is clearly sick, hurt, orphaned, or in immediate danger—you may do more harm than good by removing a young animal from the care of his or her parents. Check out our tips for determining if an animal needs help. It’s also a good idea to keep an emergency rescue kit in your car and a handy list of phone numbers for your local animal control agency and licensed wildlife rehabilitators. If you are assisting an animal after typical business hours and are unable to reach anyone, you can usually call your local police or sheriff’s department for assistance.
Keep the following items in your vehicle at all times so you’ll be ready to respond if you encounter an animal in distress:
- Carrier (medium-sized), cardboard or plastic
- Towel or blanket (with no strings or loops)
- Broom (to gently coax an animal into a carrier or away from a dangerous area)
- Wet and dry cat food
- Directions to local animal control bureaus, 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals, and wildlife rehabilitators.
For more detailed instructions on what to do if you find a baby mammal or baby bird, please check out the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Council’s Web site.