This is a guest post from Johnie of DirtbagDarling.com.
An injured fawn on the side of the road. A bird with a broken wing. A nest of baby rabbits your dog found. Chances are if you live in an even remotely suburban or rural area, you’ve encountered wildlife in need of some help. For your own safety and the health of the animal, it’s not a good idea to try and tend to it yourself—so what can you do? We visited the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, a Philadelphia area wildlife shelter, for their open house, where we talked with volunteers to find out the best way to take care of lost or injured wildlife and what we can do to support the centers nursing them back to health.
When you find an injured wild animal:
• Remember that caring for the animal is dangerous and most often the animal needs professional help. Diet, temperature, humidity, medications, and human contact have to be controlled. Be careful—you could be at risk for bites, scratches or disease.
• It’s actually illegal to care for the animal yourself. Both federal and state law prohibits the keeping of wildlife without a permit—even for short-term care.
• Place the animal in a clean, empty box with air holes. If the animal seems fragile or young, place a clean towel in the box to prevent injury. Use gloves, and only touch the animal if you’re sure it isn’t poisonous or very dangerous!
• Look up your local licensed rehabilitation facility. Call ahead if you aren’t sure how to transport the animal. Take the animal to the center as soon as possible.
• DON’T attempt to perform first aid on the animal, even if you have experience. The animal could bite, scratch or infect you with a number of diseases including rabies.
The Aark hosts an menagerie of animals found in the Pennsylvania-area, like deer, hawks, owls, buzzards, opossums, squirrels, raccoons, turtles, and more. When we visited, we got up close and personal with a few permanent residents like Chatterbox the Great Horned Owl, Grace the Red Tail Hawk, and Hathaway, an Eastern Screech Owl missing one eye. These raptors have injuries or brain damage that won’t allow them to survive in the wild, so they’re now used for education programs run by the Aark.
Typically, the Aark aims to mend and release their patients back into the wild as soon as possible. To do so requires a lot of supplies, including special formula milk for the baby animals. The Aark goes through over $2,000 in raccoon milk alone every year! To donate or become a member of the Aark, you can mail a check to: 1531 Upper Stump Road, Chalfont, PA 18914 or visit aark.org.