Discovering injured, sick or orphaned native wildlife is of course very stressful for you, as well as for the bird/animal. In the case of what appears to be an abandoned bird, please make sure that it actually is. When we find a helpless baby bird on the ground, our first reaction is very often to assume that it is abandoned, so we ”rescue“ it. This is sometimes the best thing to do, but in many cases the babies are simply taking their first steps and are being supervised and guarded by their parents, and should be left where they are. If you are unsure or it is clear that it has fallen out of its nest, our Hotline operators will help you decide what to do.
Native wildlife is not used to being handled, and they are very susceptible to stress. If handled improperly, they will struggle and may hurt themselves even more. It is therefore important to take the utmost care in the rescue of native wildlife, and to reduce this stress as much as possible to increase the animals chance of recovery.
General guidelines to follow if you find sick or injured wildlife
- Assess the situation, and attempt to remove any immediate threats to the bird/animal when safe to do so. This could mean keeping cats and dogs away to alleviate stress until a rescuer arrives, or stopping/divert traffic if the casualty is on the road.
- Always keep in mind that your own safety is a priority. Claws, as well as teeth, can inflict damage, as wildlife naturally see us as predators. Don’t see lack of movement as being a safe situation – always cover before handling.
- Minimise stress by placing the bird/animal in a soft towel or cloth, and then gently place it in a cardboard box. Ensure the bird/animal is in a comfortable position, i.e. wings folded in against the body in the case of a bird, with a towel supporting its body to minimise movement, and its neck supported to enable normal breathing.
Put the box in a warm, dark and quiet room, away from pets, TV, radios etc. Please do not disturb – stress associated with human contact can result in death.
- Do not offer anything to eat or drink unless advised to do so.
- Do not attempt to handle snakes or bats, but please cover bats with a towel or a box to protect them from the weather. Do not touch the animals, and keep pets and people away from them.
- Call WILVOS 24/7 Hotline on (07) 5441 6200 for advice and contact information for wildlife carers or vets local to the area.