Rescuing wildlife is best left to the pros

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Melody Bell Wilkes
For the Salisbury Post
Mary Morrison, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas, provided this report. Wildlife in our area has suffered from rapid urbanization, the depletion of uncommitted land and the diversion of natural water supplies.
Many times, when a wild animal is not in need of assistance, human intervention actually creates a problem. It is against state and federal law to possess a wild animal. Even more importantly, most people don’t have the facilities or training to provide care for the animal they are trying to help.
If you need assistance or are interested in volunteering, contact the Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas hotline at 704-552-2329 or visit
During this time of year, you may find babies that have been left alone in a nest or den. Some wildlife mothers (rabbits and deer) hide separately from their young and return only to feed their babies. Others must leave their babies alone while they go out to find food.
Occasionally young birds will get dropped or fall from a tree. The mothers will return for a baby, even if a person has touched it. That’s true for most animals, except opossums,
If possible, it is best to reunite the baby with its mother. If the baby appears uninjured and healthy, you can return it to its nest or den. Mothers will not return if people or pets are present. If the mother does not return or if the baby animal is sick or hurt, call ARC for advice.
If an animal needs assistance, place a soft cloth with no strings or loops in the bottom of a box (strings can get wrapped around the baby). If the box does not have air holes, make some.
Before you pick up the baby, put on gloves. Some babies will bite, and wearing gloves also will protect you from fleas, ticks or lice.
Pick the animal up and gently place it in the box. Cover the box with a lid.
Place a heating pad set on “low” under a corner of the box, or a plastic bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a cloth in the box. Be sure that the bottle does not leak.
Place the box in a quiet, dark room. Do not handle it or allow children or pets near it.
Don’t feed the baby or give it water. Wash your hands and anything else that had contact with the animal.
You can call ARC to locate a volunteer in your area. ARC is a nonprofit corporation funded only by donations and manned by volunteers who have the training to care for wildlife. Its purpose is to provide proper nutritional needs and medical care, including veterinary services if required, for an animal’s recovery and release back into the wild.
ARC holds three classes per year that cost $45 for four days of training, a manual and one-year membership with ARC. Contact Sherry Johnson at 803-548-4604 for more information.
Melody Wilkes is owner of A Walk in the Woods, an environmental education company that provides outreach wildlife programs. Contact her at 704-436-9048 or visit www.