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Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife — Call First

It is easy to mistake healthy wildlife for one that may be orphaned or injured. The only time you should intervene with a wild animal is if it is clearly sick or injured, or if you are certain the parent is dead.

Two fawns under the care of WSU's exotic staff.

What I should do when I come across injured or possibly abandoned wildlife?

Always contact your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possibleideally before intervening. Calling ahead allows a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to assess the situation and help to ensure the animal needs intervention. They can also provide important tips for safe handling and transport.

How do I contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator?

Through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website anyone in the state can locate contact information for the nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator. You can also call the Washington State University wildlife service at 509-335-0711.

What to do if you find a lone deer fawn?

Young fawns in hiding are often mistaken as orphaned. Young deer fawns are left alone for long periods of time while their mother is out grazing. During this period the mother will visit the fawn a couple of times a day to feed and move it, and so it is important that they be left where they are found unless obviously sick, injured, or you are certain the mother is dead.

What to do if you come across a bunny nest?

Bunny nests are often hidden in plain sight. Mother rabbits will leave their young while they forage and only visit their young a couple of times during the day. If you find a nest, please keep pets and children away and leave it as is. If the nest appears to have been disturbed or the babies appear injured, call your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

What do I do if I come across a fallen nest?

The first thing you should do is keep all pets and children away. Replace fallen bird nests as high in the tree/bush that they came from as you can. You can observe from a distance to see if the parents return. Many mammals such as squirrels, foxes, and raccoons, have the ability to move their young to a second nest site. Make sure the babies are not in immediate danger, and then give mom several hours come back to move her babies. If the babies appear to be injured, or if mom does not return, call your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

What can I do if a baby bird falls out of a nest?

Fun fact: It is a myth that wildlife mothers will abandon their young if they are touched by a human and smell different. Many uninjured fallen bird nestlings can be placed back in their nest or in a replacement nest nearby so the mother can find her chicks. Be sure to contact your nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator before intervening as many factors including age, species, and location determine whether a reunite will be successful.