Does the Animal Need Your Help?

You should try to educate yourself to ascertain whether or not an animal in distress needs rescue or should be left alone in the wild. Unless the situation is urgent, a quick phone call to a wildlife expert can make the difference in the ultimate outcome of the rescue. In the event a rescue is needed, your primary goal is to get the animal to a trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible without injury to the animal or you.

In most instances it is preferable to leave the animal where it was found. We often receive animals for rescue that would have had a better chance for survival if left alone in the wild. For more information on this topic see:

CADFW Recommends Californians Leave Young Wildlife Alone (pdf file, 21 kB)
Found an Injured or Orphaned Animal?
Situations for Baby Bird Rescue (pdf file, 39 kB)
‘Abandoned’ fawns: What you should know, and should not do if you ‘find’ them - DNREC
Do Them a Favor, Leave Them Alone!

These quick help charts may help you decide on a course of action:
Found a bird? (pdf file, 1.3 MB)
Found a mammal? (pdf file, 1.4 MB)

Also, please read the first story on our Rescue Stories web page about the "Grey Kit Fox Rescue". It provides a valuable lesson on the consequences of human/wildlife interaction.

In addition to the information below, please see our Links web page for other web sites with information on injured wildlife and other topics.

General Information on Helping Wildlife

Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Harming Wildlife
Most of the wild animals brought to our clinic suffer from injuries or problems caused by humans. Since most people try to avoid causing harm to other living things we decided to put together a list of things "to do" and "not to do" to help our wildlife. The list is in no particular order of importance, but if everyone followed these suggestions, our case load would be dramatically reduced.

1. Prevent your pet cats and dogs from attacking and/or playing with wildlife. Don’t allow them to run without supervision and raise your cats as indoor pets. Many injured animals are brought to the clinic each year with terrible wounds from dog and cat attacks. Spay and neuter pet cats. For more information see: Cats and Wildlife, Cats Indoors and BirdWords: Feral cats drive songbird decline.

2. Alert birds to large expanses of glass in your home, such as patio doors or picture windows, by hanging streamers, putting bird silhouettes on the glass surface, or allow the glass to be a little bit dirty. Reducing the reflection should cut down on the number of birds who collide, often fatally, with windows and doors. For more information see: Birds and Windows and the ABC Glass Collisions Program.

3. Educate children to respect and care for all wild creatures and their habitats. Children need to learn that wild animals are not playthings and should be allowed to go about their lives unmolested. Children should also be told not to destroy nests, burrows and other wildlife homes.

4. Pick up litter and refuse that could harm wildlife, including six-pack connectors (after cutting each circle to reduce the risk of entanglement), mono filament fishing line, and watch batteries (if consumed by waterfowl they can cause mercury poisoning).

5. Be alert when driving, especially near wildlife refuges and in rural areas, to avoid hitting or running over wild creatures. Animals do not recognize the danger from an oncoming vehicle. And please stop and move any turtles away from the roadway or shoulder of the road.

6. As a general rule, leave infant wildlife alone, since they are not always truly orphaned. A parent may be nearby or will return soon. Be sure they are in need of help before you remove them from the nest area. If you find young birds on the ground, attempt to return them to the nest.

7. Place caps over all chimneys and vents on your roof to prevent birds, ducks and raccoons from taking up residence and becoming a nuisance or getting trapped.

8. Do not leave fishing line or fish hooks unattended or lying about outdoors. Try to retrieve any kite string left on the ground or entangled in trees.

9. Before mowing your lawn or roto-tilling your garden, walk through the area first to make sure no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in harms way. Remember, it only takes a couple weeks for these babies to grow and leave the nest. Be tolerant and give them the time they need.

10. Check trees to make sure there are no active bird or squirrel nests or residents in tree cavities before trimming or cutting them down. Even better, avoid cutting down dead trees if they pose no safety hazard, since they provide homes for a wide variety of wildlife.

Every year wildlife rehabilitators across the nation receive orphaned and/or injured baby tree squirrels because they have lost their nest trees due to seasonal tree trimming and removal. For an informational flyer about this subject click here (pdf file, 362 kB).

11. Use non-toxic products on your lawn and garden.

12. Motor oil should not be left in oil pans unattended. Birds often fall into these pans and few survive.

13. Do not attempt to raise or keep wildlife yourself. Not only is it illegal, but wild creatures do not make good pets and captivity poses a constant stress to them. Young wild animals raised without contact with their own species fail to develop survival skills and fear of humans, virtually eliminating their chances of survival in the wild.

14. Don't leave sticky fly tapes hanging in open areas where birds can come in contact with them. It is very difficult to remove the resin from a birds feathers.

15. Take down unused soccer and volleyball nets. Birds become entangled in them, especially raptors that hunt at night and cannot see the nets.

16. Read this article about harassment and bullying of wildlife.

I Found a Bird, Now What?
Is the bird hurt or sick? Is it unable to flutter it's wings; bleeding; wings drooping unevenly; weak or shivering; attacked by cat/dog? If yes, bird needs help. Please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

Is it a nestling? Bird will not be fully feathered and may have fallen from nest. If possible put the baby back in it's nest. If not, you can make a substitute nest by lining a small container (such as berry basket or margarine tub) with dry grass or pine needles. Hang from original or nearby tree and leave the area. Mama will come if she can and there is no interference (dogs, cats or people). Now observe, is baby abandoned. If yes, bird needs help. Please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

Is it a fledgling? Normal behavior is hopping on ground meaning the parents are still feeding it. Is bird safe from cats, dogs, or people? If so baby is okay. Leave the area. If baby is not safe, place the bird in bushes or on tree limb nearby and watch from a distance to see if parents return. If so, baby will be taken care of. Do parents return? If no, bird needs help. Please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

The Mount Shasta Area Audubon Society has a helpful web page about assisting Injured Birds.

If you find a baby duck, goose, quail, or killdeer:
If you know the mother is dead, or if baby is injured, call SWRR right away. If baby is separated from the mother and you know where she is, place baby close by so she can hear it. Watch from a distance. If the mother is not found or does not claim the baby within an hour then bird needs help. Please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

How to Rescue Birds
1. Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth (not a terry cloth towel) on the bottom of the cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn't have air holes, make some. For small size birds you can use a paper sack with air holes punched in it.

2. Gently pick up the bird and place in prepared container, being especially careful with the wings.

3. Warm the bird if it's cold outside or if the animal is chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Or fill a zip-lock plastic bag, plastic soft drink container with a screw lid or a rubber glove with hot water. Wrap warm container with cloth and put in next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn't leak or the bird will get wet and chilled. Make sure also that the bird can't get burned by whatever you put in the box/carrier/bag with it.

4. Cover the box, carrier, etc. with a light sheet or towel

5. Keep the bird in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don't give it food or water. Leave it alone. Don't handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away.

6. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency, or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don't keep the bird at your home longer than necessary. Keep the bird in a container. Don't let it loose in your house or car..

7. Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal was in contact with. Use a towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier to prevent the spread of diseases and parasites to you and your pets.

8. Deliver the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

9. See additional helpful information on the Native Songbird Care & Conservation’s I Found a Bird web page.

I Found a Baby Mammal, Now What? Is the baby animal hurt or sick? Is it bleeding, shivering, vomiting; was attacked by cat/dog? If yes, the mammal needs help. Please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

Has the baby lost it's way? If you can find the nest or den and it is in tact, replace the baby. If you cannot find the original nest then place the baby in a shallow box close to where it was found. Keep it warm but out of the sun. In either situation listed above, watch for the mother for 4 to 6 hours. Stay completely out of sight. Mothers won't return if any people or pets are present. If the mother returns the baby is okay so leave the area. If not, please call or take it to the Shasta Wildlife Center.

I Found Baby Cottontails, Now What? If their nest has been damaged, it can be repaired. Look for a shallow depression lined with grass/fur. Place babies in nest with light layers of grass to hide them. Leave the area, or the mother won't return. Mothers return only at dawn & dusk. If you find healthy bunnies that are 4-5 inches long, able to hop, with eyes open and ears up, they do not need help. They are able to survive on their own. Leave them alone.

I Found a Baby Jackrabbit, Now What? Unlike cottontails, jackrabbit mothers do not make a nest, other than a fine depression on the ground covered by soft grasses. Babies are born fully furred and eyes open. Mama will leave them alone for hours at a time where they stay still until she comes back to feed them. If you find a baby follow guide lines for a fawn. Leave it alone unless it is threatened or injured or sick.

I Found a Fawn, Now What? Mothers normally leave their babies to feed. Mother deer communicate with their babies telling them to stay quiet and still while they go feed. Mother leaves baby alone for hours. She will return and baby will stay where mom says. If baby looks okay, leave the baby alone as the mother will not return if people or pets are present. If baby looks cold, hungry, diseased or confused, or if dogs or other animals, or people threaten it, then call the Haven Humane Society. See above for their contact information.

I Found an Orphaned Baby Skunk, Now What? Before turning in an orphan baby skunk it is important to make sure it is actually orphaned. Baby skunks stay with the mother through the winter. Rehabilitated baby skunks are released in the fall. Tehama Wild Care takes in orphan skunk kittens, while SWRR does not. See the bat section for their contact information.

How to Rescue Baby Mammals Only adults should rescue baby mammals. Before rescuing adult mammals, seek guidance from a wildlife rehabilitator.

1. Prepare a container. Place a soft cloth on the bottom of a cardboard box or cat/dog carrier with a lid. If it doesn't have air holes, make some. For smaller animals, you can use a paper sack with air holes punched in.

2. Protect yourself. Wear gloves, if possible. Some animals may bite or scratch to protect themselves. Also, wild animals commonly have parasites (fleas, lice, ticks) and carry diseases.

3. Cover the animal with a light sheet or towel.

4. Gently pick up the animal and put it in the prepared container.

5. Warm the animal if it's cold out or if the animal is chilled. Put one end of the container on a heating pad set on low. Or fill a zip-top plastic bag, plastic soft drink container with a screw lid, or a rubber glove with hot water, wrap the warm container with a cloth and put it next to the animal. Make sure the container doesn't leak or the animal will get wet and chilled.

6. Tape the box shut or roll the top of the paper bag closed.

7. Note exactly where you found the animal. This will be very important for release.

8. Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place. Don't give it food or water. Leave it alone. Don't handle or bother it. Keep children and pets away.

9. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator, state wildlife agency or wildlife veterinarian as soon as possible. Don't keep the animal at your home longer than necessary. Keep the animal in a container. Don't let it loose in your house or car.

10. Wash your hands after contact with the animal. Wash anything the animal was in contact with. Use a towel, jacket, blanket, pet carrier to prevent the spread of diseases and parasites to you and your pets.

Wildlife as Pets

Shasta Wildlife Rescue would like to remind the public that it is illegal to possess a wild animal. If you find an injured or sick wild animal, please contact us. Wildlife do not make good pets because:

1. Most wild animals are cute and affectionate when they are young, but become troublesome as adults when maturing instincts conflict with the taming process.

2. Young animals may seem tame but may become very aggressive and unpredictable as they get older.

3. The animal becomes too wild to keep as a pet, yet is too tame to survive in its natural habitat.

4. Captivity is not natural and is a constant stress to a wild animal.

5. Wild animals carry diseases that can be very harmful to people, see our Links web page “Animal Diseases & Medicine” section for more information on Zoonotic Diseases.

6. Wild animals need to be examined by a veterinarian that has special knowledge and training in wildlife medicine.

7. Wild animals need care by individuals knowledgeable about their specific needs (nutritional, behavioral, social, and environmental).

It is against the law in most states to keep wild animals without having the proper permits, even if you plan to release them!!

For more information see:
California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Manual 671 (pdf file, 747 kB)
Laws Regarding Wildlife
US FWS Laws/Treaties/Regulations

Management of Nuisance Animals

When humans and wildlife come in close contact there can be damage to property. There are proper ways to mitigate this damage without harm to the animals. For helpful information on wildlife management and damage control see the Kansas State University Nuisance Wildlife Damage Control Manual, the Wildlife Damage Management and the Wildlife Rehabber web pages. Also see our Domestic, Farm and Exotics web page for links to local nuisance animal control companies. Living with Cliff and Barn Swallows
Download the brochure from Native Songbird Care & Conservation, click here (pdf file, 4 MB).

Use a Bird Control Barrier to Discourage Nesting Birds
Use a product such as a Bird Slide for commercial and residential Buildings to discourage roosting and nesting birds such as Pigeons, Swallows, Sparrows, Crows and Seagulls.

Skunks
See this informative page Kansas State's College of Veterinary Medicine for helpful information on skunk management. Also available on that page is a recipe for:

Home Made Skunk Deodorizing Solution
1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon liquid soap

Mix the ingredients well. Wet the animal down, then thoroughly saturate the areas the skunk has sprayed. Leave the solution on for three to four minutes, then finish with a tap water rinse. Do not prepare in advance. It is unsafe to bottle and store as the mixture will expand in a closed container. Be aware these solutions may cause color changes in certain materials. In treating pets, keep solutions away from their eyes.

Bats in Your Attic?
If you have unwanted bats roosting in your attic, you can use one way flaps to exclude them from returning after their night feeding, then permanently seal the entry. This can only be done in the cooler months of November through April or the bat pups will starve to death. For more information on bat management and damage control click on the links here, here and here.

Bats and Rabies

Did You Find a Bat? Bats are a special case due to the higher probability of rabies infection. It is imperative for your safety and the safety of others that you do not handle bats, especially with your bare hands. It is vitally important to avoid the bat's saliva. If you find a bat, cover it where it is found with a box or bucket, etc. If the bat is still alive, make sure there are breathing holes in the cover so it can breath and stay cool. Then call an expert immediately. In Shasta and Tehama County you can contact:

Tehama Wild Care
Tehama Wild Care Facebook page
530 347-1687

Shasta Wildlife Rescue does not accept bats for rehabilitation due to licensing and safety issues. If you call us however, we can refer you to a qualified bat rescuer. For more information on bats see the following websites:

Bat Conservation International
Bat Conservation Organization
Bats Northern California
Bat World Sanctuary
Flying Mammal Rescue
Rabies in Bats and Other Wildlife
In addition to bats, many other species of wildlife can be Rabies carriers. It is imperative to minimize the handling of any wildlife to avoid possible exposure.

The Rabies virus is preventable and treatable. Untreated, the Rabies virus can stay dormant within a human body for up to 7 years before showing signs of the disease. It is almost always fatal if symptoms develop. Anyone who has touched or held a bat should call the public health department in their county.

In Shasta County call:
Shasta County Public Health Dept.
530 225-5591 or
800 971-1999

Additional information on the rabies virus:
Bats & Rabies (pdf file, 425 kB)
Rabies - CDC
Rabies - Facts, MD Dept. of Health
Rabies - Zoonotic, MD Dept. of Health
Rabies - Shasta County Public Health Dept. (pdf file, 157 kB)
Rabies Prevention - Shasta County Public Health Dept. (pdf file, 50 kB)
Understanding Rabies - Humane Society
 
2017 - Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. (SWRR)
PO Box 1173 Anderson, CA 96007-1173
530 365-WILD (365-9453)

- Header photo by Jeff Carson -