Found an animal?
Before you lend a hand, please make sure the animal actually needs your help. What you are witnessing may be perfectly normal behaviour.
Before you call us, look for signs of:
Broken, injured or missing limbs – hindered movement
Body covered in fly eggs
Non-stop shivering or crying
Weakness or unconsciousness
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Discharge from the ears, eyes or nose
Large patches of missing/damaged feathers, fur or shell
Foreign objects stuck to or wrapped around the body
A deceased parent nearby
If you see any of these signs, call the Kawartha Wildlife Centre.
Found a baby animal?
Not all babies who are found alone have been abandoned. It is perfectly normal for mothers of wild animals, or in some cases, both parents, to leave babies for varying periods of time while searching for food, looking for a new home or evading predators.
Often the mother is close by and will return periodically to care for her babies. And, since wild mothers always do a better job of raising their young than we can, unless the animal is obviously sick or injured, it’s best to try reuniting the baby with its mother.
How can you tell if an animal is orphaned and needs your help?
That depends on the age, species and behaviour of the baby. Here is a quick overview of what’s normal for some of the most common Ontario wildlife you’ll encounter.
If you find a fawn (baby deer) hiding calmly and quietly in the bush, the mother is most likely nearby and you should leave the fawn alone. If you know for sure that the mother is dead, or the fawn is wandering and crying incessantly all day, contact us.
If you mistakenly remove the fawn, quickly return it to the exact spot where you found it and observe from a distance. The doe will not return if it sees or smells you.
At 3 to 4 weeks old, bunnies may only be about the size of a tennis ball, but they are already independent. As long as they hop well, their eyes are open and their ears are erect, they should be left alone. Intact nests should also be left alone, unless you find a deceased parent nearby.
If you find a nest that’s been disturbed, lightly cover it with natural material found in the nest. If you suspect the mother is not coming back, lightly cover the nest with a cross-hatch of twigs or yarn and check back in 12 hours. If the twigs have not been disturbed, it’s likely the mother is not coming back. Remove the babies, following our Capture Guide below, and contact a Wildlife Centre near you.
If a baby squirrel has a full and fluffy tail and can run, jump and climb, it does not require your assistance.
If you find baby squirrels who have fallen out of a nest, leave them where they are to give the mother time to retrieve them. If the weather is chilly and the babies are not furred, you can place them in a box with a warm blanket and warm (not hot) water bottle underneath, but do not cover the babies, as the mother might not find them. Observe from a distance, and if the babies are not retrieved by dusk, remove them following our Capture Guide below.
Mother raccoons stay close to their young at all times, so if a baby raccoon has been alone for more than a few hours, it is likely orphaned. Try to contain the baby (use an overturned laundry basket with something heavy on top, or a pet carrier with the door loosely closed) and monitor the situation. If the mother hasn’t returned by morning, follow our Capture guide below and contact a wildlife centre.
Raccoons carry many diseases that are transferrable to humans and household pets, so for your own safety, please do not handle them.
If you see baby skunks running around without a mother in sight, they could be orphaned. Try to contain the babies with an overturned laundry basket, and monitor the situation to see if the mother returns.
If the mother does not retrieve the babies before dusk, follow our Capture guide below and contact a wildlife centre.
If you find a baby bird that is fully feathered, it has already left the nest, even though it may not be able to fly. Simply observe from a distance, and only intervene if it appears injured.
If the bird is featherless or not fully feathered and has fallen from its nest but appears unharmed, put it back in the nest. If you can’t find the nest or the nest is too high for you to reach, hang a wicker basket nearby (choose a shallow basket that rain can pass through) and place the baby inside. Observe the bird, and if the parents do not return, contact a wildlife centre.
Wildlife Capture Guide.
Capturing injured or orphaned wildlife is never easy. Here are some general tips for how to safely capture and transport a wild animal.
ALWAYS use caution with adult animals, especially rabies vector species such as skunk, fox, raccoon and coyotes.
Do not take unnecessary risks!
Prepare a container.
A cat/dog carrier or a box with air holes and a lid is ideal. Line the container with a soft clean cloth, or in the case of a porcupine, use newspapers to prevent their quills from getting caught.
Take pictures of the animal and the surrounding area.
Record your observations and document the exact location where you found the animal – be sure to include GPS coordinates or the closest intersection. Many animals are territorial and must be released back at the rescue site.
Wear gloves to protect yourself.
Cover the animal’s head with a towel or sheet.
This will help calm the animal, which is important since injured or sick animals are under a great deal of stress and you are perceived as a threat.
Gently place the animal in the prepared container.
This may be easier said than done if the animal is large and/or feisty. Remember to always protect yourself. If necessary, leave the animal where you found them and contact us for guidance.
Secure the container to ensure the animal cannot escape.
Loosely place a sheet or towel over the container.
This also helps to calm the animal.
Move the container to a suitable location, out of the cold or the heat.
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Contact a wildlife centre for further instruction.
Find your nearest Wildlife Centre.
Removing a wild animal from its natural habitat might actually do more harm than good, so before you “rescue” any wild animal, please make sure they actually need your help.