Some of the most commonly received questions or concerns are those regarding lost, abandoned, or injured wildlife. Please note that the wildlife refuge is dedicated to creating or sustaining habitat for wildlife; we have no veterinary facilities and can not accept injured, orphaned, or unwanted wildlife. The article below (with text from Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife) should answer most questions and point you in the right direction.
Have you found a baby wild animal?
In the spring and early summer, you may have the good fortune of observing a baby animal in the wild. Often, the baby you see will be unattended by a parent. Unless something seems amiss, keep your distance and leave it alone. Human intervention is always a wild animal's LAST resort for survival, NEVER its best hope.
Is the animal really abandoned?
Wildlife parents are very devoted to their young and rarely abandon them. Many species are only raised by the mother. Baby wildlife must be left alone the majority of the time while the mother ventures off to find food for herself and her young.
The best thing to do is to keep your distance, and keep children and pets away from the young animal. Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can be harmful to humans and pets. Wild animals also defend themselves by scratching or biting.
What do I do if the animal is truly abandoned or injured?
If you see open wounds or other injuries, or you know without a doubt that a young wild animal has lost its parent, consult your nearest Wildlife District Office or local wildlife rehabilitator. Do not attempt to capture or feed it until expert guidance is provided to you. Also, limit contact with the animal to reduce stress and the possibility of it becoming habituated. Taming a young animal will make it unreleasable into the wild. It is illegal to keep wildlife without a rehabilitators permit. Rehabilitators go through extensive training on how to raise and treat young and injured wildlife. Leave it to the professionals and you'll greatly increase the animals chance of survival. If you take an animal from the wild, there is a 90% chance it will NOT survive.
Assess the situation by asking if any of the following apply:
- It is bleeding, has an open wound, or has a broken bone.
- It is covered in fly eggs (look like small grains of rice)
- It has been crying for more than one day.
- It appears weak AND is lying on its side.
- It was attacked by a pet.
If the answer to any of these is "yes," the baby animal or bird is likely injured or orphaned. Contact the nearest permitted wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.
If the answer to these questions is "No," but if the baby animal is in a dangerous location, the baby can be moved a short distance to a safer location (do not attempt to move adult animals). After moving the baby animal, quickly leave the area. Do not linger. If possible, you can monitor from afar with binoculars. If the animal is not in a dangerous location, and if you are not positive it is injured, leave the baby animal alone! The baby animal is most likely healthy and waiting for mom to return. Keep children and pets away, monitor from a distance and reassess the situation the next day. Mothers will usually return and move the baby to a new location.
- Never chase a baby animal to capture it. The stress can be dangerous to a young animal which can lead to damage to internal organs, and even death.
- Never give food or water to injured or orphaned wildlife. Inappropriate food can lead to sickness or death. Fawns in particular have very sensitive stomachs and require a special diet.
- Each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.
Why should we keep wildlife wild?
- A baby wild animal's best chance for survival is with its mother
- Wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild, not in a house of cage.
- An animal that has become habituated to humans cannot be returned to the wild.
- Once they grow, wild animals are active and independent, which can make them dangerous and destructive.
- Wild animals have complex nutritional needs not easily met in captivity. Nutritional deficiencies can leave an animal deformed for life.
- Wild animals can carry diseases and parasites, some of which are transmissible to people or pets. Some diseases, like rabies, can cause serious human health problems.
- It is illegal to possess, restrain, or keep any wild animal. The purpose of the law is to protect wild animal populations and protect people from disease and injury.