If you happen to find a baby wild animal and you think it may be abandoned, access the situation carefully. Is the animal’s mother likely to return? Is the animal in immediate distress or injured? To determine if the animal is abandoned, check on it periodically for 24-48 hours. Make sure to keep your distance and keep any pets away from the area. The mother is unlikely to return if predators or people are close by. It is very common for animals such as rabbits and deer to be away from their babies all day and return well after dark.
If you find a baby bird that fell out of the nest, pick the baby bird up and put it back in the nest. It is a common myth that if you touch a baby animal the mother will not care for it because she can smell human scent. This is NOT true – birds especially have a poor sense of smell. If you see a baby bird on the ground but it has feathers and can walk around – leave it. The mother is close by and is teaching it how to find food, fly and fend for itself.
If you find a truly abandoned wild animal, DO NOT bring it into a local veterinarian! Veterinarians are not legally allowed to treat or keep wildlife. The best option is to contact your local Animal Services or Wildlife Centre. It is illegal to keep or house wildlife unless you have the proper license to do so.
Signs that a wild animal is sick or injured:
- Obvious signs of illness or injury like visible wounds, bleeding, injured limbs, twitching/shaking, missing fur/feathers, loss of balance, crying
- Known contact with a cat
- Abnormal behavior like appearing sleepy or “drunk”, letting you approach closely or appearing blind
- Laboured breathing
- Displaying signs of neurological trauma (seizures or walking in circles)
If you find an injured wild animal DO NOT touch it! When animals are injured and in pain they are very likely to bite. Report the injured animal to your local Animal Services or Wildlife Centre.
Toronto Animal Services – (416) 338-7297 or 311
Toronto Wildlife Centre – (416) 631-0662
Written by Kylie, CCR