Many of our rescues this time of year involve birds as it is migratory bird season and many of the birds (often on or near the beach) become depleted from the journey which leads to injuries due to weakness and disorientation. Hawks, owls and vultures are also at risk as they find their food sources along roadways and car strikes are very common. Regardless of the animal you have found, here are some steps toward getting them help.
If you find an orphaned or injured animal:
1. TAKE A PICTURE with your phone. Not for social media exposure ... but so when you call us, we can identify the animal and begin to assess the extent of injury.
2. CONTAIN THE ANIMAL. This not nearly as scary or difficult as many people fear. First, locate a box and poke air holes. Keep box size to a minimum, as wildlife feels safer in a smaller 'hiding' place and won't jump or slide around inside. Often a citizen will say "I don't have a box." It may mean you have to run down the street to a nearby store or brainstorm a solution. It's usually not impossible to find a box or similar container. Often other people nearby will be happy to assist in the rescue if you solicit help.
3. To capture, you have two main options. Throw a towel, jacket, blanket, sheet, etc. over the animal. Covering an animal, especially it's eyes, will calm it and allow you to safely bundle it up and lift it into a container. PREFERRED METHOD: put the box down over the animal and slide a flat piece of cardboard slowly under (creating a false floor) and then gently rotate the box back to upright and seal it up. Similarly, you can set the box on it's side beside an animal lying on the ground and gently move the animal into the box with a broom, dustpan, piece of cardboard, box lid, etc. In both cases, you have not actually handled the animal at all. Most people who feel apprehensive around wildlife find this method very manageable.
4. CALL US. We can discuss where the animal needs to go. If the photo suggests very serious injuries, we may direct you straight to our wildlife vet. Orphans can come directly into rehab. We'll work out a solution during the call. The important thing is that you have contained the animal(s) and it will come to no further harm.
5. PLEASE DO YOUR BEST NOT TO LEAVE AN INJURED ANIMAL UNATTENDED. In these cases, we have no way of knowing if the animal will still be there if we ask a volunteer to travel out to the site. Phone calls to just report seeing an injured animal mean that we are left to wonder --will the animal still be alive by the time we can get someone out to it? --has another citizen picked it up since the call? -- has the animal moved off to a hiding spot with it's injury? or into danger, like the road? If at all possible either contain or stay with the animal. If you absolutely can't and there is no else nearby who is willing to do so, then please note very specific details about where the animal is located. For instance, an address, which side of the road, near which mile marker or which tree ... you get the idea. Be very specific. Take photos if necessary. Otherwise we waste precious resources driving out trying to locate an animal with little details to go on.
WE WILL HAPPILY WALK AND TALK YOU THROUGH THESE INITIAL STEPS OF THE RESCUE.
Wildlife rescue is a team effort. And a pretty awesome feeling once the animal is safely in care. Be a hero. That towel you have tied around your shoulders as a cape can be used to throw over an injured animal! Voila