Emergency care of a wild animal
If you can walk up to a wild animal without it running or flying away, this animal may need your help. This applies to both adult and young animals. If the animal has an obvious injury, is bleeding, feels cold or looks sick, sits still with eyes closed, the animal is attempting to move away but is falling over, this animal needs immediate help. If the animal is not injured, review to the species information to further determine whether your wild animal needs assistance.
If the animal is injured or sick:
- Prepare a container – Use a cat carrier or cardboard box with air holes for ventilation. For small birds and animals you can use a paper bag with holes for ventilation. Place a light sheet or towel on the bottom. Do not use grass clippings; even dry grass contains moisture and will make the animal cold. Make sure the container is closed and secure.
- Protect yourself – Use gloves and goggles to protect yourself from getting scratched or bitten. Place a light sheet or towel over the animal and gently pick it up. Place the animal in the prepared container. Please seek professional advice before attempting to capture a large or potentially dangerous wild animal.
- Provide a heat source - A heat source can be a heating pad on low, activated hand warmers, hot water bottles, or plastic water bottles filled with warm water. Be sure to protect the animal from touching the heat source by wrapping the heat source in a towel. Create enough space to allow the animal to move away from the heat source if needed.
- Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place – Do not give the animal food or water. Keep children and pets away. Do not handle the animal.
- Note exactly where you found the animal – This will be important for the release of the animal. If there is an empty nest, bring it with the animal as it may help us to identify the species.
- Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife facility, or a wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible – Do not keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Get the animal professional help as soon as possible. See contact information for AHS Wildlife professionals below.
- Wash your hands after contact with the animal – Wash anything that the animal was in contact with - towels, clothes, and carrier - to prevent the spread of disease and parasites to you and your pets.
- Do not attempt to keep the animal - It is against the law to keep wild animals without the proper permits, even if you plan to release them. Wild animals NEVER make good pets. Injured animals need to be given proper medical attention. Orphaned wild animals have specific nutritional, behavioral, and social requirements that need to be met so this animal can have a successful release to the wild.
The Animal Humane Society, Golden Valley location, provides care for all wild animals except skunks. We will provide phone advice for skunk situations. Please bring your wild animal directly to the Golden Valley location. If you need further advice or assistance you may call the Wildlife Exam at (763) 489-2223.