If while out enjoying nature, you happen upon injured wildlife in need of assistance, here are a few pointers on how best to help. Catching injured wild birds and animals can be tricky. If you find a small injured bird, gently throw a towel or blanket over it, then carefully pick it up and/or place it in a box to bring it to NIWRA. You can also use a towel or blanket on a mammal.
An injured owl on a car bumper.
If you find injured wildlife that has dangerous teeth and talons, it is best to get some help. We have had folks bring in eagles on their own because there was no help around, but in general it's best to get knowledgeable assistance when dealing with birds of prey, for example.
Wildlife can be injured in many ways by human activity -- from boat propellers to hay mowers, automobiles, power lines, windows, deforestation, encroachment, to hunting, etc. So when you are enjoying the great outdoors, be on the lookout for animals in need.
To try to minimize an injured animal's stress level, keep the rescued creature in a dark ventilated box away from human contact until you can get to a rehabilitation centre like NIWRA, as stress can be harmful and even fatal to a wild animal. The animal could die of a heart attack. Gently covering its head with a towel can help calm it.
Do not put injured animals in the trunk of your car or leave them in an unventilated hot or cold back seat. What can you do if you find an injured bird on a walking trail but don’t have anything to carry it in? An ingenious hiker used his backpack. Although it was a little cramped, the bird he brought to us was fine but happy to be released.
Stress occurs when the animal is taken away from their own species or when improper food, handling and feeding techniques are used. Water deprivation will also cause stress and will quickly upset the animal. A stressed animal may exhibit behaviour such as struggling, screaming, biting, and refusing to eat or drink. Parasites flourish on a stressed animal, and stress can make an animal go into shock and die.
Do not feed baby birds. Call NIWRA to ask for advice on feeding if you can't bring in the bird right away, as some birds eat only seeds, while others such as owls, eagles, and hawks are carnivores.
When rescuing an injured animal, please be gentle and try everything possible to keep it from becoming stressed. Use whatever you have available to rescue the animal, such as a towel, blanket, net or even your coat.
Call a rehabilitation centre like NIWRA if you are afraid or unsure of rescuing the animal. Remember stress and shock can kill.
You can help the wildlife in care at NIWRA by making a financial contribution on our secure website. Thank you so much for caring about wildlife!