By Sophie Bowater • April 2021
It is springtime and everything is coming to life. I love this time of year. Everything starts looking green, the buds are popping out of the ground, the birds are coming back from the south, the wildlife are coming out of hibernation, and the sun is shining with beauty. I walk every morning and listen to the singing of the birds, the rustling of trees, and watch our river flowing again from being frozen during the winter. It is lovely!
During this amazing awakening of life comes the birth of baby wild animals. From little chicks to bear cubs to fawns to coyote pups and many more, they are all part of this time of year that brings new life and beauty to our woods. Sadly, it is also the time when there are many injured and orphaned wildlife and Wildlife Rehabilitators are very busy and dedicate all their time to helping them get back to the wild hopefully.
It is very important that people know when a wild animal needs your help and when it does not. There are a few signs that an animal might need your help:
- A cat or dog brings you an animal in its mouth
- If there is noticeable bleeding
- An animal has an obvious broken bone
- A featherless bird on the ground
- A crying animal calling for help
- A shivering animal
- Finding the mother dead
If you find a wild animal that has any of these signs, then please call your local wildlife rehabilitator. You can find a complete list with map location on Peace Of Mind Animal Wellness.
If you find a baby wild animal, please don’t just think it has been orphaned. If it is a baby bird, look around in the trees as it could have just fallen out of its nest. There is a big myth that if you touch a bird the Mama won’t come back. If you see the nest, please put the baby back into it and if Mama is still around she will continue to feed it. ALSO, if you see a fledgling hopping around on the ground, that is normal as fledglings are learning to fly and they start from the ground with supervision from their parents for a few days to a week.
Most baby wild animals don't like human scent so don’t touch it with bare hands. Rabbits, Deer, Fox, Raccoons, and many other wildlife Mama’s leave their babies in a safe place during the day, to find food and avoid attracting predators to their nest. So if the babies don’t look injured at all, don’t touch them and you can check on them again later if you are worried at all.
If you do find that the wild animal is orphaned or injured, get a box, punch a few holes in the sides, put a blanket in it and put a warm water bottle in between the blanket to make it cozy. I always give a stressed wild animal some rescue remedy and a dissolved tablet of homeopathic arnica in a little water to help with the trauma. In Colorado where I did wildlife rehabilitation, we did 80% homeopathic remedies and they had amazing results! Always make sure you have gloves on at all times when handling the wild animal until you can bring it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Also, put a blanket over the top of the box to help with the fear and stress of the animal.
It is also very important that you do not touch a wild animal especially if it is a Rabies vector. Rabies vectors in Vermont are Skunks, Raccoons, Bats, Woodchucks, and Foxes. I had a terrible incident a few years back when someone brought me a baby Woodchuck that had been brought to her by her dog. I did not know Woodchucks were a rabies vector in Vermont. I was a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator in Colorado so I knew what I was doing but was not licensed here in Vermont. I called a Vermont licensed rehabilitator that I knew to see if she had any orphaned woodchucks for my little woodchuck to be with as they do better with others. I was sadly told that our baby woodchuck, that had not even opened its eyes, needed to be killed and checked for rabies as it had been in the dog’s mouth as well as the person’s hands and was a rabies vector here. It was a sad day watching the baby be taken away to find out it did not have rabies a couple days later. It can also go the other way. A cute little baby skunk was brought to my veterinarian to find out it did have rabies so you just never know so you need to be careful.
Overall, there are quite a few Wildlife Rehabilitators scattered around Vermont and they are all working hard during this time of year. I am sure any of them would be very happy to get donations for the amazing and exhausting work they do. I know when I used to work in Colorado doing wildlife rehabilitation for Larimer County, there were nights that I was up every hour feeding baby animals. Thank you to all the Wildlife Rehabilitators out there. The wild animals thank you too!!