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Tips for dealing with new generation of wild and orphaned animals

Posted April 10, 2014

Press Release - Spring is the busiest time of year at Procyon Wildlife (pronounced PRO-see-on). Not only are we inundated with orphaned animals, but we are swamped with phone calls from people who have found animals and don't know what to do with them.

Sometimes animals that are thought to be orphans are actually waiting for their mother to return to them. Such is the case with rabbits and fawns whose mothers leave for long periods of time, cautioning their young to hide quietly.

If you find a fawn tucked away in the dense grass it's probably waiting for its mother. However, if it's walking around alone, especially if it's crying, then it's probably an orphan.

Orphaned mammals may appear thin and may cry loudly if their mothers have been gone a long time. If you're not 100 per cent certain that an animal is an orphan, the best thing to do is to find the nest and return the baby to it. If a nest can't be found, the baby can be placed in a box, kept warm with towels and a hot water bottle, and placed close to where it was found. If the mother doesn't return in a few hours, you should call a wildlife centre.

If an animal is obviously injured (you can see an open wound or a broken wing or leg) it will require medical attention and should be brought to a wildlife centre.

Young birds are often on the ground because they have jumped out of the nest and are learning to fly. They are not orphans; they are fledglings and their parents feed them on the ground until they fly away. Watch them from a distance and if no parent is seen within a few hours, call a wildlife rehabilitator.

You may put the bird on a branch to protect it from cats or keep your pets inside until the bird is safe. Nestlings however, lack feathers and should not be out of the nest. Return them to the nest if possible. If that's not possible call a wildlife centre.

If an animal has taken up residence in your home (attic, garage, porch, etc) the best way to convince them to leave is to make the den undesirable. Mother animals prefer a warm, quiet, dark place to have their young. If you can't wait until the babies are old enough to leave the nest on their own, you can encourage mom to move them to her secondary den. Simply place a light and a radio - tuned to a talk station on low to medium volume - in the area of the den and wait.  It may take several days for the mother to move all of her babies, so please be patient. When you are absolutely certain they are all gone, seal the entrance to the den to prevent another animal from moving in.

If you have a wildlife situation and are not sure what to do, call us. We're here to help you. It's important to remember that a baby's best chance for survival is with its mother.

Procyon Wildlife is a registered charity operating solely on donations and staffed by volunteers. It's located at 6441 7th Line Beeton Creek Conservation Area. For more information, please go to or call 905-729-0033.

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