Is caring for injured or orphaned wildlife a good idea?

According to the VDWR, more often than not, handling injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife can do more harm than good. Although our intentions are well-meaning, human interaction with wildlife should always be kept to a minimum. Humans often misinterpret normal wildlife behavior as abnormal and may unnecessarily disturb and stress wild animals by attempting to catch them.

Often, particularly in spring, concerned people pick up animals that they think are orphaned. More than 75 percent of such orphans “rescued” every spring should have been left alone. Most wild animals are dedicated parents and will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. Additionally, many behaviors that people may view as abnormal actually are not in wildlife, and people may do much more harm than good by attempting to catch them for rehabilitation.

Do not attempt to rescue skunks or bats. These are high-risk animals that are potentially harmful to your health. Never attempt to capture an adult sick or injured mammal. If they are frightened and/or in pain and see you as a threat, they can be quite dangerous and can cause a severe bite.

There is much more information on the VDWR website. If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, please locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources at their toll-free wildlife conflict hotline at 1-855-571-9003, 8:00 AM-4:30 PM, Monday through Friday, or visit the licensed wildlife rehabilitator section of their website.

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1. Where can I purchase a dog license?
2. Are cats required to be licensed?
3. What if I or someone I know are missing a pet?
4. Does the Animal Service Bureau take care of spiders, mice, lizards, or flying and buzzing insect pests?
5. What do I do if I find a dead animal?
6. What do I do if I am bitten by an animal?
7. What do I do it my pet bites someone?
8. What is rabies?
9. Can humans have rabies?
10. What can I do to help control rabies?
11. Who is responsible for enforcing wildlife related laws?
12. What if I experience nuisance wildlife at my home or in my area?
13. Is caring for injured or orphaned wildlife a good idea?