Wildlife rescue protocol in Boone County

The Boone County Conservation District gets many calls about injured or orphaned wildlife, especially in spring when babies are born. BCCD does not operate a wildlife rehabilitation facility but has a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator on staff who will take calls during work hours. Do not bring animals to the office without calling first. You will be asked to bring the animal at the end of the work day and given instructions on what to do in the meantime. Please do not leave animals in a box at the door. This only further endangers them and seals their fate. Wait until morning; then call BCCD or another rehabilitator.

Most rehabbers are unpaid volunteers; you may have to wait for a return call because they work during the day. Please be patient; someone will return your call after work hours. Meanwhile, keep the animal warm, quiet and away from people. Do not let your children hold it, no matter how “cute” the animal is. Do not feed an injured animal. You may be referred to another rehabber, as no one person can properly care for all the orphaned and injured animals in the area.

Please follow the advice of your wildlife rehabilitator as to whether a rescue is warranted. It is both time-consuming and expensive to care for an orphaned animal. Do not take a young animal from its mother when it’s unnecessary. Humans are almost never better parents than the one nature has provided. If you’ve been advised to rescue an orphaned animal, please bring with it a canister of milk replacer for mammals or hand-feeding formula for baby birds, which can be purchased at any pet store.

Many animals die in their first year of life in the wild, some as food for other animals. Death is a natural part of life. Not every rescued animal will survive.

An animal should only be rescued if it is obviously orphaned, injured, sick, or very weak, if it is covered with flies or maggots, or if it is in immediate unnatural danger. An animal should not be rescued if it looks fat and healthy and is able to run or fly away. Chasing an animal causes it to expend precious energy and creates a stressful situation. Also, an animal should not be “rescued” because it has taken up residence in an inconvenient spot. If you find a nest in your barbecue grill, wait a few weeks, leave it alone, and the young birds will soon fledge and move on. Also, keep in mind that it is illegal to possess almost any wild animal without a permit.

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