Wildlife Rescue 411
Signs that a wild animal needs your help:
- It is presented by a cat or dog
- There is evidence of bleeding
- There is an apparent or obvious broken limb
- A bird is featherless or nearly featherless and on the ground
- It is shivering or lethargic
- There is a dead parent nearby
- It is observed crying and wandering all day long
If you find an injured or distressed wild animal that needs assistance, take the following precautions and call Snowdon at 208-634-8050 or your nearest Fish and Game office. If directed to leave a message, please provide a brief description of the help needed, including the animal’s location and your contact information.
Never handle an adult animal without first consulting a wildlife professional. Even small animals can injure you. Once you’ve contacted someone who can help, describe the animal and his physical condition as accurately as possible. Snowdon does not have the resources to rescue large adult mammals.
While you wait for assistance:
- Put the animal in a safe container. First, punch holes for air (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. Then put the animal in the box.
- Put on thick gloves and cover the animal with a towel or pillowcase as you scoop him up gently and place him in the container.
- Do not give the animal food or water. It could be the wrong food and cause him to choke, trigger serious digestive problems or cause aspiration pneumonia. Many injured animals are in shock, and force-feeding can kill them.
- Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place—away from pets, children and all noise (including the TV and the radio)—until you can transport the animal. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, air conditioning or heat.
- Transport the animal as soon as possible. Leave the radio off and keep talking to a minimum. Because wild animals aren’t accustomed to our voices, they can become very stressed by our noises. 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 help keep them alive.
If it is not possible to stay with the animal, mark the location so that rescuers will readily find it. Note the location and provide clear directions on how to find the animal in need when you call for help.
If you find an injured bird, carefully put it in a cardboard box with a lid or a towel over the top and place in a cool, safe place. If the bird is a raptor, carefully wrap the talons with a towel and cover the head before attempting to move it. Birds go into shock very easily when injured and can easily die from the shock. If a bird has hit a window and is still alive, it may just need a little time to regain its senses. It will then be able to fly away. NEVER try to force feed or give water to the bird. If it is still alive after a few hours but is not able to fly away safely, call Snowdon at 208-634-8050 (Valley County area of Idaho) or a wildlife rehabilitator in your area.
If you have found an orphaned bird, the first step is to determine if it is really orphaned. When many young birds first fledge and leave the nest they may still have some down and short tail and wing feathers. Fledglings often also have weak flight muscles and may be fed for a few days on the ground by their parents (outside of the nest). This is a very vulnerable time for young birds, as they are easy prey for roaming cats and other predators. It is important to keep fledglings safe and to allow the parents to continue feeding them.
If the bird has fallen out of the nest prematurely, or if a tree was cut down and a nest of young is found, call Snowdon at 208-634-8050 (Valley County area of Idaho) or a wildlife rehabilitator in your area for instructions.
Be aware that during summer months, parents will often leave their offspring for periods of time to feed. This is especially true of deer and elk. If you find a baby alone, it is usually best to leave it alone and leave the area. The mother will not return if people or pets are present. If you are still concerned, observe the baby again to see if the mother has returned. For deer and elk wait at least 4 hours. Call Snowdon if:
- a baby is noticeably injured or starving
- dogs, other animals, or people threaten its safety
A baby’s best chance for survival is to be with its mother.