New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region

Encountering Wildlife: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if I see a wild animal in my neighborhood or a public area?

    If the animal is not posing a threat to people or property, you should leave it alone. Enjoy your chance to observe wildlife! Other than at bird feeders, don’t feed wild animals. Federal, State, and often local laws prohibit the capture, possession, translocation, injury, or killing of most kinds of wildlife.

    Sightings of rare wildlife can be reported to the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program

  • What should I do if a wild animal poses a health threat?

    If wildlife poses an emergency, dial 911. Don’t touch a wild animal that is obviously sick or is posing a threat to people or pets. Call your local animal control warden.

    You can report dead birds to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at (908) 735-5654, as part of their surveillance for diseases such as Avian Influenza and West Nile Virus. Avoid any mammal that appears confused, sick, vicious, or overly friendly. It might have rabies, and a bite can cause serious illness.

  • What should I do if I find an injured animal?

    If a wild animal is injured, it is already under stress and will be even more stressed by your attempt at help. Also, animals that think they’re under attack are likely to strike back. If you want to help, contact a State-approved wildlife rehabilitator. Note that any person who finds a sick, injured, or orphaned migratory bird may, without a permit, take possession of the bird in order to immediately transport it to a permitted rehabilitator (learn more about Migratory Bird Rehabilitation Permits).

  • What should I do if I find a dead animal?

    Don’t touch it unless it’s causing some conflict or problem. If you come across more than 5 dead birds in one area with no obvious cause of death, call the U.S. Fish & Willdlife Service’s Law Enforcement Office at (856) 327-0821 (South Jersey) or (908) 645-5910 (North Jersey). You can also contact the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regarding dead birds and bird disease at (908) 735-5654.

  • What can I do about nuisance animals?

    See APHIS' Living with Wildlife for information on dealing with animals that are not imminent threats but cause property damage or other problems. For further information regarding nuisance animals, contact the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds regarding species of management concern such as Canada goose, snow goose, and cormorant. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection offers these recommendations to avoid negative interactions with coyotoes.

  • What can I do about birds colliding with windows where I live or work?

    If birds frequently collide with windows in your home or place of work, try some of the suggestions from the Fatal Light Awareness Program.

  • What should I do if I find a baby bird?

    Baby bird information from the National Wildlife Refuge System.

  • What should I do if I see a turtle in a road or parking lot?

    If you can do so safely, pick up the turtle and move it off the road or parking lot in the same direction it was heading, preferably near an area of natural habitat. Do not put yourself or others at risk of traffic accident. Do not collect or transport wild turtles. Use caution with snapping turtles [PDF]. If a turtle is not in imminent danger (e.g., crossing a lawn), leave it alone.

    Even healthy reptiles can carry the Salmonella bacteria. Wash your hands with soap and running water after handling a turtle. Avoid contact with turtles by children under 5 years old and anyone with a compromised immune system. For more information on Salmonella, see the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control.

    See other questions on this page for dealing with sick, injured, or dead wild animals.

    You can also help prevent turtle mortality by driving slowly near wetlands during the spring and summer, especially in areas posted with "turtle crossing" signs.

  • Where can I go to watch or photograph wildlife in New Jersey?

    Visit a National Wildlife Refuge. The New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, and the New Jersey Audubon Society have a variety of maps and guides available for free and for sale.


Last updated: February 6, 2020
New Jersey Field Office
Northeast Region Ecological Services
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