The best way to help a baby bird that’s fallen out of his nest, a squirrel that’s been hit by a car, a crow that seems unable to fly, or any other form of wildlife, is to call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. In some cases, an “orphaned” young bird or animal may not be orphaned at all, and a rehabilitator can tell you whether or not the animal actually needs to be rescued.
If an animal does need to be rescued, time is of the essence in making that call. Because a lot of the animals wildlife rehabilitators get are suffering from shock, exposure, dehydration and/or malnourishment, a delay of even a few hours can decrease their chances of survival. Most licensed wildlife rehabilitators are available 24 hours a day. I always recommend that you find out who your local licensed rehabilitators are before you need them — and then you will feel a lot more comfortable calling them in the middle of the night if necessary.
How do I find a wildlife rehabilitator?
Animal Help Now, through ahnow.org and free iPhone and Android apps, leverages digital technologies to immediately connect people involved with animal emergencies with the most appropriate time- and location-specific resources and services. Animal Help Now provides immediate and appropriate assistance for any wildlife emergency, coast to coast.
The website for Wildlife International provides many helpful wildlife resources, including a directory of wildlife rehabilitators by location. Click on the red “Emergency” to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area.
Contact your state wildlife department, which might be called the Game and Fish Department, the Department of Natural Resources, or the Department of Wildlife Resources. The National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association has compiled a contact list for many of these offices.
You can also contact Best Friends Animal Society’s Wild Friends department at 435-644-2001, ext. 4460.
When should I call a wildlife rehabilitator?
If you have found an injured or orphaned bird or animal, it’s very important to call immediately. Half an hour or an hour can easily make the difference between life and death for the bird or animal.
Sharon St. Joan established Feathered Friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and has cared for birds and wildlife for over 15 years. She now devotes her time to writing about birds and wildlife-related issues.