Abandoned young wildlife need special care

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

By Leah McEwen

Picayune Item

While the first day of spring is still nearly two months away, the weather in Pearl River County is growing warmer. Soon the forests will be full of young wildlife. Unfortunately, many of these vulnerable animals will find themselves orphaned or abandoned. Those that aren’t found by predators first will stumble across hiking paths or even into peoples’ backyards. So, what should a Pearl River County resident do if they find an abandoned wild animal?

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According to the Humane Society website, the first step is to determine if the animal really has been abandoned. Was the baby brought or caught by a dog or cat? Does the animal have any obvious injuries or illnesses? Is there a dead animal nearby that may have been a parent? Oftentimes animals will leave their young for long periods of time to hunt or gather food, so it is important not to jump to conclusions and remove an animal from the wild that still has a parent. The Humane Society recommends leaving the baby animal where it is and giving the parent time to return.

If after a certain period of time passes and the pup, kit or other form of young wildlife is still in need of help, the next step would be to call a certified animal rehabilitator. Debi Bordecki, Cattery Manager at the Pearl River County SPCA, said that the shelter unfortunately cannot take abandoned wildlife.

If a rehabilitator is unavailable, the next best thing is to call a wildlife agency or nature center and explain the circumstances in which the animal was found. Be sure to describe its condition in as much detail as possible. After a time and place has been established to meet the specialist, take steps to prepare the animal for transportation.

The Humane Society recommends using gloves and to cover the animal in a towel or pillowcase prior to handling. Transfer the animal to a safe container, and place it in a dark, warm area of your home.

It is important to avoid causing the young animal unnecessary stress, so keep it away from pets, children, or other loud noises such as the television or radio.

When it is time to transport the animal, leave the radio off in the vehicle and avoid talking.

Although it may be tempting to try to rehabilitate the young animal in a private home, Bordecki states that “it’s illegal” to do so without certification as the smallest mistake can lead to the death of the orphan. To give the animal the best chance of survival, transport it to a professional as soon as possible. Remember that wild animals – even young ones – can be very dangerous, so take every precaution to protect yourself and others, the website states.

If an orphaned, abandoned, or injured animal is found, Bordecki suggests contacting the Wild At Heart Rescue in Jackson County. She said that she often meets workers halfway in Kiln to transfer the animal.

The rescue specializes in rehabilitating injured and abandoned animals. The rescue can be reached at 228-669-7907, or at wildatheartrescueinc@gmail.com.