Rescuing and Transporting Animals

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If you have not already done so, call Greenwood Wildlife at (303) 823-8455 to have Greenwood’s wildlife rehabilitators determine whether the animal needs assistance, and prepare to meet you at the Center to take over care of the animal. A volunteer will give you directions to our center over the phone.

*CAUTION – If you are dealing with a rabies vector species (e.g., raccoon, fox, coyote, bat, skunk), DO NOT TOUCH THE ANIMAL. Call Greenwood at (303) 823-8455 first for instructions.

Please be careful when handling wildlife. Keep in mind that if you are injured, you cannot help the animal. When in doubt, do not attempt a capture. Call a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Greenwood Wildlife at (303) 823-8455.

If a capture is recommended, follow these steps:

Step 1: Find an Appropriate Shelter

Identify a well-ventilated, covered box or animal carrier of appropriate size. Line the shelter with something absorbent, like newspaper or clean sheets or T-shirts (please no holes or ragged or fringed edges – these are dangerous). Do not use towels as little toes and nails can get caught causing further injury.

Step 2: Capture the Animal

First, put on a pair of gardening gloves. Then, use a sheet or T-shirt to cover the animal and gently but securely take hold of it. Keeping the animal covered minimizes its stress over being handled and offers you some protection.

Remember that wild animals of any kind, especially those that are afraid or in pain, do not understand that you are trying to help them. Animals will try to protect themselves if they can. This is natural and should never be considered vicious.

Once inside a container, make sure it is securely closed.

Step 3: Avoid Shock, Reduce Stress

Just as with injured humans, shock is often the number one cause of death in injured wild animals. As the first person to encounter the injured animal, you are in the best position to minimize that animal’s shock and stress.

Shock is essentially the loss of heat and fluids from the body–a natural response to injury. Interaction with a human causes additional stress to an injured wild animal and this can kill an already shocked animal. So keep in mind that fear, noise (such as talking or car radios) and just your presence (as a predator), all contribute to the animal’s stress.

Perhaps it is natural for us to want to hold, pet, and comfort an injured wild animal, but the animal does not understand our good intentions. To a wild animal, we are just another potential predator. Holding them or touching them is extremely stressful, as studies and our experience have shown. Noise and music are stressful to wild animals.

If you cannot transport the animal immediately, place a heating pad set on the LOWEST temperature underneath HALF of the box (do not use on hot days). Place the box in a safe, quiet, dark place that is free from noise – including music or pet and human traffic. Even classical music is stressful to wild animals.

Step 4: NO FOOD OR WATER!

Do not offer the animal food or water (this includes Pedialyte, sugar water or any other home-made hydration formulas), and do not leave food or water in the box with the animal. Because the animal has not been medically examined, it is impossible to know the extent of its injuries. Feeding it or forcing it to drink water at this point could cause death. If the animal gets wet, it could become hypothermic.

As with humans, hospitalized animals need to be very gradually rehydrated and fed using special formulas and techniques. Greenwood Wildlife begins this process as soon as the animal enters our Intensive Care Unit.

Step 5: Provide No Treatment Unless Bleeding Excessively

Do not attempt to treat the animal’s injuries. Leaving the animal is the best treatment possible until it can be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Additional handling causes stress, and improper treatment can cause further injury.

One exception is if the animal is bleeding excessively. If this is the case, apply steady, gentle pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. Do not apply a tourniquet of any kind. Please call a rehabilitator at Greenwood for more specific instructions.

Step 6: Transportation

1. Make sure that the box containing the animal is secure on the seat or floor of your car.

2. Keep the car warm and quiet (no radio, minimal talking) while you travel. Avoid sudden stops and sharp turns.

3. Do not let anyone, especially a child, hold the animal on his or her lap during the trip.

It is very important to think first about what the injured animal needs and the fact that contact with people is stressful for the animal. Once the animal arrives at a rehabilitation center, it will be treated by experienced staff and volunteers who will ensure that it receives the best care possible.