Nature Notes

By Dr. Robert R. Blease DVM













Nature Notes

Helpful Hints and Interesting Tidbits

How to Deal with Injured or Orphaned Wildlife.

Almost all of us have, at one time or another, come across young or injured wildlife, alone and presumably deserted. But, young birds for instance, leave the nest before they are capable of flying, sometimes for 10 days or more! The parent birds are still caring for these youngsters, but spend much of their time away from them. Baby birds that ARE deserted are most likely sick or abnormal. The weakest of the nest may be pushed out purposely. Scientific studies have shown malfunctions of the digestive tract, and infestations of both internal and external parasites, all of which would ultimately result in death.

The best thing for baby mammals, as for baby birds, is DO NOT TOUCH! They should be left where they were found. Many adult mammals leave their young for extended periods of time. The parents are simply waiting for the human to leave!

Injured or diseased mammals can behave unpredictably, and stress can make them more defensive. In addition, some may carry RABIES! NEVER place yourself in a position where you could become scratched or bitten! If this should occur, contact your Doctor immediately!

Both federal and state permits are legally required for those who handle wildlife!!!

Occasionally, wildlife rehabilitation centers with appropriate legal permits will take wildlife. To contact one near you, call the Animal Control Officer for your township.

Saving Orphaned and Injured Wildlife


New Jersey is home to a great variety of wildlife. Raccoons, opossums, squirrels, woodchuck, fox, deer, hawks, owls and songbirds can be seen throughout our state. These animals live in the forests, along rivers and streams, in parks and even in our backyards. With our ever-expanding development, wild animals are left with less and less habitat and are coming into increasing contact with humans. While some people take delight in seeing the variety of animals, there are many who consider wild animals in their backyard to be a nuisance. People often resort to removal methods that are not only harmful to the animals, but are ineffective in solving the problem. Fortunately, there are humane, long-term and effective ways to deal with unwelcome wildlife. The following guidelines will help you co-exist peacefully with wild animals, many of whom have already been displaced by human activity. If you would like more information about our wild neighbors, please consult the following books, available at your local library, bookstores, and through The Humane Society of the United States, Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife. Merlin D. Tuttle, America’s Neighborhood Bats.


Although many people think they are helping animals by feeding them, the opposite is usually true. Feeding encourages wild animals (i) to become dependent on handouts which are not part of their normal diet, (ii) to lose fear of humans, and (iii) to congregate in unnaturally large groups, increasing the chances of disease transmission.

If you feed birds, place feeders where they will not attract other animals and make sure the area beneath the feeders is cleaned of debris, spilled seeds and shells.

Do not offer wildlife the bounty of your garbage. Use sturdy trash cans with secure lids. Thoroughly rinse bottles and cans for recycling. Put food scraps in closed bins instead of open compost piles.

To avoid attracting raccoons and opossums, do not feed your pets outside. If you must put dog or cat food outside, do so only during the day. Promptly clean up leftovers afterwards.

A garden is a wonderful feeding site for wild animals. Keep your garden enclosed with barriers. Harvest vegetables and fruits as soon as they are ripe.


A building in poor repair is an invitation to wildlife! Animals can squeeze into small spaces, so seal holes and cracks in and around the foundation of your house. Check under the eaves, along the roofline and in the attic for openings. Replace old roof shingles. Skirting the foundation and covering holes with hardware cloth may be necessary to prevent animals from gnawing through the newly made repairs.

Prevent entry through chimneys by capping them with vents or by installing screens. Keep dampers closed whenever the fireplace is not in use.

Outdoors, prune branches that overhang your house and are easy routes to the roof and windows. To prevent animals from climbing trees, remove lower branches and wrap metal cylinders or specially-designed cones around the trunk at least three feet off the ground. Remove brush piles from your yard and store wood off the ground.

Deny easy access into buildings by weatherstripping around doors and windows. If you install a cat or dog door, use one that is opened by an electronic signal from your pet’s collar.


If wild animals have taken up residence in or under your house, wait until they have vacated the building, then take steps to exclude them. Assume that there are babies present in the spring, summer and early fall and be careful not to separate the parents from the young. Be patient, and if at all possible, wait until the family is old enough to move out.

If you do not want to wait for the animals to leave on their own, make their surroundings uninviting. Turn on a bright light, leave a loud radio on continuously near their den. Many animals are sensitive to smell and can be deterred by placing rags soaked in household ammonia in a bucket or dish near their den.

If babies are not present, you can exclude adults while they are outside the house. Nocturnal animals such as bats should be closed out at night while they are active. Squirrels can be closed out during the day. Set up a one-way door or stretch a piece of plastic across the entrance. Be extremely careful not to trap infants inside. Wild baby animals will not be able to use the one way door, and their mothers will not be able to return to care for them. Only when you are certain activity has ceased and all animals have left, close the openings permanently.

Outdoors, use visual repellents such as mirrors, flags, and strips of metallic tape. Scent deterrents must be reapplied after rain.


Trapping and relocating wildlife is ILLEGAL in the state of New Jersey. At best, trapping and relocating wildlife is a short-term solution. Unless the conditions that attracted wildlife are corrected, other animals will take the place of those trapped. Relocation causes stress for the animal, for the young left behind, and for existing populations at the release sites. For these reasons, it is illegal to relocate wildlife.


Once the animals have left, be sure not to invite others to take their place. Have you removed all food and water sources? Have you closed off all available shelter sites? Take the precautions outlined in this pamphlet to prevent potential problems.

Respect and enjoy the wildlife that lives around you. Saving Orphaned and Injured Wildlife Article was taken from: South Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation Center