As springtime warms our days and we spend more time outdoors, the chances are good that we might encounter some of our wild animal friends. Whether we are simply doing lawn work or if we are hiking through some trails, rabbits, geese, ducks, and even bats could be in our path.
Thomas F. Dock, Director of Communications/Public Information Office, Noah’s Animal Hospitals, shares what we SHOULD and SHOULDN’T do if we find a baby animal in our yard.
1) https://www.wildlifecenter.org/sites/default/files/Infographics/Baby_Rabbit.png. This graphic helps illustrate what you need to know about finding baby bunnies. If the bunny appears to be uninjured, is fully furred, has upright ears, and has his eyes open, the best advice is to simply leave him alone. He likely is old enough to be on his own and doesn’t need your help.
2) If you find babies in a nest, leave the nest alone as momma rabbit will be back at dawn and dusk to feed her little ones. You can sprinkle flour around the area and the nest as a way to determine that mom has really returned. If she has come back, the flour will be disturbed.
3) If your pet catches a baby rabbit or you find an injured bunny, you will want to take the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. There are 68 licensed rescue groups in Indiana. http://wildlife.rescueshelter.com/Indiana
4) Here in Central Indiana, consider Providence Wildlife in Westfield (http://providencewildlife.org/index.php). Remember, all rehabilitators are volunteers and rely on donations to continue to do this needed work.
5) Beyond baby bunnies, we also see a lot of interactions with waterfowl, like ducks and Canada Geese. Many of these birds will create nests in our landscaping areas, behind or beneath bushes. In most cases, these babies don’t need our help.
6) If you suspect that a duckling or gosling may be separated from its parents, but appears to be safe from dogs, try observing for about an hour. If no parent has claimed the young bird in that time, call a wildlife rehabilitator.
7) Remember, some birds, especially Canada Geese, are extremely territorial and protective of their nesting area. As we saw recently here in Central Indiana, a couple was chased by a protective goose while simply walking through a parking lot close to a goose nest.
8) Your best course of action if confronted by an angry Canada goose is to simply move away from the area. Try to be observant as you walk and give a wide berth to known nesting areas. Don’t run away but move away slowly.
9) If a goose couple has become a nuisance, contact the Department of Natural Resources. It is illegal to harm the birds, goslings, or the nesting area.
10) Likewise, baby songbirds are often found. If you see a baby bird out of its nest, consider the following infographic: https://www.arlboston.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2014_ARL_Found_Baby_-Bird_Rescue_-Guide-1.jpg. It’s actually an old wives’ tale that if you touch the baby bird, the parents will reject it. If you can find the nest, go ahead and put her back in the nest.
12) Rarely, you might find a bat on the ground during the day. It is important to remember that bats are the #1 vector of rabies virus here in Indiana. You should not attempt to pick up a bat with your bare hands. Use a thick towel or, better, a shovel or garden trowel to scoop up the bat and place into a secure container for transport to a licensed rehabilitator.
13) Remember that your local veterinarian is unlikely to have a license to treat injured wildlife. While calling their office often seems to be the right thing to do, more often than not, they will refer you to a rehabilitator, like Providence Wildlife.
14) Catch the Noah’s team at this year’s MUTT STRUT on Saturday, April 27th!!
For more information, visit www.noahshospitals.com.