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Only you can prevent wildlife “orphans” be either sick or injured or “orphans” of the woods. The first rule, according to MNR, is “do not remove it from its natural habitat.” The animal may not need any actual aid and taking it home to care for it could do more harm than help. cottontail rabbits spend much of the day away from their well-camouflaged offspring tominimize the chance of predators finding them.”
Finding a dappled fawn or a tiny baby rab- bit alone in the woods may seem like an opportunity to become a wildlife Good Samaritan. But it could also be a mistake to try and adopt a wild animal “orphan”. TheMinistry of Natural Resources (MNR) has issued some guidelines for hikers, both local and visiting, who come upon wild ani- mals which from first appearances seem to
that it is in need of help. Froma safe distance, determine if there are any wounds or blood showing, any substantial loss of fur or fea- thers, and whether it seems to have trouble breathing. Also is it having problems getting up and moving? Provincial regulations forbid keeping wildlife in captivity without permission from MNR. But a person can have “tem- porary possession” of a wild animal for a 24-hour period if the intent is to transport it to a veterinarian or the nearest wildlife rehab centre. Anyone finding an injured or sick wild animal should contact their local veterinarian or the nearest wildlife rehab centre for advice on what to do. Be ready to provide details on the condition and loca- tion of the animal in case the veterinarian or rehab expert decides to go to the site for a diagnosis. If preparing the animal for transport, wear gloves and other protective clothing to both avoid bites and scratches and also to avoid passing any human germs to the animal. Wash hands or have a shower afterward. Be careful lifting and moving the animal to reduce the risk of further harm. For any wildlife that appears diseased or dead, avoid contact. Instead call the Cana- dian Wildlife Health Cooperative, toll-free, at 1-866-673-4781 or go online to www. cwhc-rcsf.ca for instructions. In the case of bats found, which appear either injured or dead, avoid all contact, in case they may be carrying rabies.
TheMNR recommends leaving a wildlife “orphan” where it was found and then co- ming back to check on it a few times during the next day or two, to see if it is still there. Residents are also urged to avoid getting too close, lest they leave scent traces behind that might scare off the parent animal. Also keep dogs and cats away from the site. The parent may avoid the area if there is too much disturbance or if it determines that predators or people are close by. Another risk to young animals, which may leave them as “wildlife orphans” or may end up killing them, is distracted or speedingmotorists. Many animals now risk becoming roadkill because they have to cross a highway, a county or a municipal road running through their territory. The time when the risk is greatest risk for many animals, like deer, is during the early morning or early evening hours, when they are usually heading to a feeding site. The risk of becoming roadkill is also high in rural areas for many farmyard pets, with cats being frequent victims as they dart out of the high grass bordering a road either heading for home or as they are hunting after mice and other small animals. If a wild animal is encountered, either in the woods or along the road, which appears injured or sick, MNR advises making sure
“Some species leave their offspring alone temporarily, especially during the day,” the MNR report noted. “For example, deer and
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Thanks to a weekend driver who either wasn’t watching the road or was going faster than the posted limit, this little fawn along the side of County Road 17, near Wendover, will never have to worry about becoming an orphan because of a hunter’s bullet. The risk to wildlife fromcrossing local highways and country roads remains high, and domestic pets like cats and dogs are also at risk. Both wildlife officials and police urge motorists to pay attention and obey posted speed limits to reduce the chance that they may hit an animal before they can slow down or brake. Residents and visitors are also urged to be wary about “rescuing” wildlife babies. —photo Gregg Chamberlain
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