Sports and Outdoors

Monday, March 30, 2009

What to do if you find a baby or injured animal

Indiana DNR Release:

It's the time of year when thousands of animals are born in the wild. With the spread of suburban areas into animals' natural habitats, many people find baby wild animals that appear to be alone. Thinking the animals are orphaned, hurt, abandoned or lost, well-meaning individuals sometimes “rescue” them.

Doing so is not only usually unnecessary, it’s bad for the animal. It’s illegal if you don’t have the proper permit. And it poses health risks for humans.
With more and more suburban areas being built close to natural areas, young animals are increasingly born near humans and discovered without an adult animal nearby, so a few reminders are especially pertinent.

"The apparent lack of an adult does not mean a young animal is alone," said Linnea Petercheff, operations staff specialist for the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife division. "Adults often leave their young alone, safe in nests or dens while they forage for food, but rarely do they abandon their young."

If a bird has fallen out of a nest, it is OK to gently return it to the nest. The best way to make sure an animal is truly orphaned is to wait and check it periodically. If you are unsure, place some strings or sticks across the nest. If such items are later disturbed, the mother has returned. In such a situation, leave the young animal alone. The adult will return after you leave the area.
Personal safety is another consideration. While such animals may look helpless, cute and cuddly, they can bite or scratch people who attempt to handle them. Some wild animals can carry parasites and infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans.

Remember, state laws prohibit owning protected wild animals without a permit. Federal laws also prohibit the possession of migratory birds, including songbirds, raptors and waterfowl. It is even illegal to treat wild animals for sickness or injury without a permit. Wild animal rehabilitation permits are issued to qualified individuals who take in sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals with the intent of releasing them back into the wild.

If you encounter an injured, truly abandoned or sick wild animal, do one of the following for assistance:

- Call the DNR/USDA Wildlife Information Hotline, 1-800-893-4116, during business hours.

- Check the DNR/USDA-Wildlife Services Web site, and click on "Wildlife Conflicts Hotline" or go to

- Call the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife in Indianapolis, (317) 232-4080.

- Call your DNR law enforcement district headquarters or regional headquarters; contact information is at:

- Call a licensed veterinarian for immediate assistance with a sick or severely injured wild animal.

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