Caring for Wild Critters
It all started years ago, many, many years ago. As a young child I was
responsible for my poor mother being subjected to living with "orphan" baby snakes, squirrels, raccoons and the list goes
on. I was forever bringing home some desperate creature in need of my care. Soon the game
wardens in my hometown were bringing their finds to me as well.
As I grew older my love of all God's creatures grew as well. I moved to Maine in 1976 bringing a
few horses with me. I lived in Mud City in Doc Barnes' house on the corner. I bought my grain at
Metcalf's in Cornish. It was there that my Maine wildlife experiences began. I drove to their farm
one day to pick up a couple shoats (young pigs) to raise and noticed a cage on the floor in the
barn. Inside was a tiny black and white striped ball of fluff. You guessed it, a skunk. After hearing
the story behind its capture, I offered to take it home with me.
Sammy, as the young skunk was named, was probably about a month of age when he joined my
family. I set him up in a wonderful cage outside and fed him the best of foods. He had a passion
for "Oreo" cookies as a treat. He grew into a handsome well-rounded character.
Long about June of the following year, a local game warden stopped by and informed me I was
in direct violation of the law by having Sammy in captivity. This was something new to me, as I had
never had a problem in NY, the state I grew up in. I was told I had two choices: have the skunk
confiscated and be graced with a $500 fine or, get rid of the skunk and be done with it. I chose the
latter. I released Sammy to a wonderful new home on the Northwest River on
the Folly Road.
The warden was generous enough to tell me I could apply for, what they called in those days, a
salvage permit. This would allow me to care for injured and orphaned wildlife for up to 6 months
legally. I had a long and varied history of working with animals on my own, as well as having
worked in a health and research lab in upstate NY with numerous animals. This gave me the
needed experience to comply with the requirements for the permit. I applied and
received my first permit in July 1978.
Since then I have taken in hundreds of needy creatures. From the smallest field mouse to a mighty
bald eagle, with a gamut of raccoons, squirrels, songbirds in between to name a few. I have learned
much over the years and have sought to pass that knowledge on to others. School programs, scout
presentations and just generally enlightening the public has been my goal, beyond helping the
It is with great pleasure I share the following information and tips about wildlife rehabilitation on
WILDLIFE REHABILITATORS are dedicated to the rehabilitation of native wildlife. However,
they recognize that wild babies are better left with and raised by wild parents. Two important
things to remember when you see wildlife: First - If it runs from you, leave it alone, unless it is a
bird unable to fly. Second - If you find a wild baby, put it back unless it is injured.
Wild animals do not abandon their babies. Check later to see if the parents have come back or
retrieved the baby. Some situations in which you should intervene:
Young animals that have been taken from their nest or den by a pet or other predator.
Young animals covered with fleas, maggots or ants
Young animals in a dangerous place (i.e. in the road, near pets, etc.)
Young animals huddled near a dead female.
Young animals found in a chimney with no parent around.
Mature Injured Wildlife: Your help is needed if an animal can be captured easily or does not
attempt to flee your approach appears to have problems with movement:
It if sits on the road, not moving for traffic
If it is convulsing or not breathing normally
If it has a drooping wing or runs when other birds fly
If it sits for a long time with its feathers puffed out
If it is bleeding
If you decide to help, remember that wildlife will NOT be grateful for your help. You are a
predator to them. They may react by retaliating with claws, teeth, hooves or talons, which is
instinctual for their survival. Wear heavy leather gloves. Call your nearest wildlife rehabilitator as
soon as possible. Once the animal has been contained, ***DO NOT HANDLE IT***
Do's and Don'ts of Transporting
DO: Place the animal in a secure cardboard box with small holes placed in the side or lid. The box
should be just big enough for the animal to stand and turn around, to prevent the animal from
thrashing around and hurting itself. Place paper towels or a soft cloth on the bottom of the box.
DO: Keep the box in a warm, quiet, dark place, away from family pets. Often wild animals will be
in shock and very scared.
DO: Put a heating pad on LOW under half of the box f the animal is injured, cold, or
featherless/hairless, placing a folded towel in between the heating pad and the box. Small creatures
that cannot move need to be checked to see that they do not get too hot.
DO: Try to get an animal professional help as soon as possible. Some birds need to eat every
1/2-hour. If you cannot get help within 2 hours, call a rehabilitator.
DON'T: Keep peeking at the animal or handling the animal. The more you look at an animal or
handle it, the more you stress the animal and reduce its chance of survival.
DON'T: Put green grass under an animal. It takes the heat out of them. Drying grass can be toxic
DON'T: Give any animal anything to eat or drink, especially cows milk. Baby birds can't digest
milk and may die. Many baby mammals are lactose intolerant and may develop potentially fatal
DON'T: Handle raccoons, skunks, fox, or bats. If anyone gets bitten, scratched, or licked (hence,
possibly exposed to rabies), that person may need to get expensive rabies shots. In addition, the
animal is at risk of being euthanized to be tested for rabies. For your sake and the animals please
bring them to, or contact a wildlife rehabilitator ASAP.
Keep your cat indoors (especially during May and June)
Keep your dog well attended
Check tree branches for nests before pruning
Check the grass for nests before mowing
Educate children to respect young wild animals and to leave them alone
Install chimney caps and window well covers to prevent animals from nesting in them or becoming
Leave healthy young wild animals where you find them and call a wildlife rehabilitator for advice
on what to do should you find one.
WILDLIFE REHABILITATORS are dedicated to the care of injured, orphaned and sick native
wildlife. They volunteer their time and money to care for the creatures brought to them. They are
licensed/permitted but not funded and donations are needed and sincerely appreciated.
Please remember Wild Birds and Animals Don't Carry Hospitalization Insurance...any donation to
help with the cost of raising the wildlife that you donate will be appreciated.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Under fish & game commission regulations, it is illegal for an unlicensed
individual to possess native wild animal without the proper permits. Wild animals do not make
good pets. They can never be trusted and can carry diseases, which can be transferred to humans
and/or domestic animals. It is important to contact the proper authorities as soon as possible for
assistance, such as the Game Warden, Veterinarian, Audubon Society or Karen Hawkins (a wildlife
rehabilitator permitted since 1978) Maine Division A, Federal Permit # 744282 (207) 647-3734.
Located on Rt. 117 on the Bridgton/Denmark line. Not just because it is illegal to possess a wild
animal, but because many animals need attention immediately.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0041
To reach a game warden 24-hours a day please contact Maine State Police at one of the following
Copyright by barefoot warrior
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