FAQS - What to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal

Stop! Do NOT attempt to handle a live badger, deer or fox. They can all inflict severe injuries to humans. You can protect these larger mammals from receiving further injury by positioning a car with its hazard warning lights and headlights on, behind the creature, to warn other road users, providing it does not endanger you or other road users.

Do move any dead creatures off the highway as they can attract other birds and animals to them as they will scavenge, which then places these other wildlife, and road users, at further risk. To check if a creature is dead, a gentle prod with a long stick should be enough to provoke some response if it is still alive.

In the boot of your car it can be handy to carry a strong cardboard box (or pet carrier), a torch, a towel and a pair of thick gardening gauntlets.

Covering an injured animal will help reduce stress and keep it warm, but do not over handle the animal. Put it somewhere quiet, dark and warm. Wild animals are not calmed by contact with humans. Talking to them and stroking them can only increase their stress.

Do keep the number of your nearest wildlife rescue centre to hand. We suggest keeping one copy near the phone and one copy in your car.

Do keep all birds away from your face. Long beaked and long necked birds (herons and grebes in particular) will peck at anything shiny, your eyes being an obvious target.

Do watch out for the talons on birds of prey (owls, kestrels, sparrow hawks, etc.) as these are their most dangerous weapon. Throw a towel over the bird and pick it up using thick gloves.

A basic rule of thumb – if you can pick up any wildlife it probably needs help.

The most important exception to this rule is baby deer (fawns). The adult deer will leave them hidden in undergrowth for anything up to eight hours at a time. If the fawns have human scent on them the adult may well abandon them. If you are in any doubt contact your local wildlife centre who will ensure that the fawn is discreetly monitored until the mother deer returns.

Also fox cubs can be moved by a vixen and left for a while. Give the vixen a chance to return to pick it up. The more noise the cub makes the more chance of the vixen hearing it and retrieving it.

Baby birds can often be placed back in a nest (using gloved hands) if it can be located. If no nest is visible a makeshift nest should be fashioned form a tissue box or similar and can be hung from a tree/washing line etc (out of the reach of cats). Monitor from a distance to see that the parent birds return to the nest. Baby birds are fed pretty constantly throughout daylight hours, so if a parent bird does not return within an hour or so, contact your local rescue centre for help.

If you are in any doubt about the above or when to interfere please contact us

For a specific question regarding the care of wildlife or a wildlife emergency please call our helpline on 09061 800132 (calls cost 50p per minute).