Rehabilitators available for hurt or orphaned wildlife
By Ronnie Weston| May 3, 2013 at 9:17 PM CDT - Updated July 25 at 3:11 PM
LITTLE ROCK – It happens every spring in Arkansas, and it occurs many times. An injured or orphaned animal is found.
Who can help it?
Wildlife rehabilitators are the helpers, and they are in many areas of the state. These are volunteers working under permits by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for animals except birds and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for birds.
Blake Sasse, nongame mammal program coordinator for the Game and Fish Commission, said, "We're beginning to receive calls from people finding ‘orphaned' wildlife. Most often such animals have not been orphaned and should be left in place. However, if an animal has truly been orphaned or has been injured, there are people permitted by the federal government to rehabilitate birds and by AGFC to rehabilitate everything else."
Wildlife rehabilitators are not Game and Fish Commission employees. They are qualified volunteers working on their own and often with limited funds. In most cases, the injured animals will have to be transported to a rehabilitator.
A few guidelines can help determine whether the animal is in need of help. First and foremost, don't assume that these animals have been abandoned and need to be rescued. One or both of the parents may be just out of sight and disturbing them could jeopardize their well-being. Three simple questions can help determine the animal's situation.
Is the animal abandoned? An "orphan" is a young animal that is not able to care for itself and whose parents cannot be found or are known to be dead. If you find a healthy young animal that is able to walk and is fully feathered or furred, it may not need your help. Its parents are usually nearby. Baby birds almost ready to fly will often hop around in the tree branches exercising their wings, and fall out of the tree. Parents will feed these youngsters where they find them on the ground. Observe the young animal from a distance before approaching it.
Is the animal in danger? Young wild animals in danger do not necessarily have to be taken from the wild, just protected from the danger. Pets and children are the most immediate hazard to a young wild animal in your yard. Pets may attack the young animal and children may cause injury by mishandling it. Some wild animals carry diseases. Keep pets and children away from the animal while you keep watch.
Information about how to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator is also available at www.agfc.com/rehab.