When NOT to "Rescue" a Wild Animal

Many wild animals do not need to be "rescued".

There is almost never a time when you should remove a baby wild animal from its natural environment. Yes, even if it appears to have been abandoned. More often than not, just leaving a young animal alone affords it the best chance for survival.

Every year hundreds of young wild animals such as fawns, baby seals, and baby birds are needlessly "rescued" and referred to wildlife rehabilitators. This is extremely detrimental and harmful to the young animal, as well as disruptive and costly to wildlife rehabilitators when they most need to concentrate limited resources on truly orphaned or injured wildlife. Unless the animal is showing obvious signs of illness or injury such as bleeding, vomiting, panting, shivering, lethargy, ruffled feathers or fur, attack by cat/dog, leave them there. The very best thing you can do for an animal you are concerned about is always consulting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator prior to collecting the animal, thereby preventing unnecessary handling. Luckily for you, and the area wildlife, we have a licensed wildlife rehabilitator on staff; contact us for more information.

Why these babies do not need rescuing.

Young animals are often left alone for hours while their parents gather food. They are being tended by their parents in ways best for their survival and appropriate for that species, ensuring that they retain natural wild behaviors. It is normal and typical for a deer fawn to be left alone hiding in a bed. It is also common for young birds to leave the nest before they are fully feathered or flight-ready. They will be fed on the ground for a day or two by the parents until they are able to fly. Careful observation before collecting, and thereby distressing, these animals should help you make a correct decision whether or not they are truly orphaned or injured and need help. While observing, make sure you are not too close; it's best to watch from a window rather than being in the immediate area, as adult birds will delay or avoid coming down to the baby on the ground out of fear of leading you (a perceived predator) to the baby.

Yes, very young birds sometimes fall out of nests. If you can safely reach the nest, put it back. The adults will not reject their young because "they smell like people." If the bird is older or you cannot find the nest, place it in a tree or shrub or on a shaded portion of a roof, out of the way of cats, dogs, and children. Do not unnecessarily handle or move it from the general area where it was found. If a baby bird shows obvious signs of illness or injury, call a wildlife rehabilitator before intervening and describe what you see.

Does the critter at your place need rescuing?

If, after reading the above information, the distressed wildlife you have under observation still seems like a good candidate for rescue, please contact a qualified individual for advice on keeping you safe and not harming the critter any further. We have a licensed wildlife rehabilitator on staff who would be happy to help; contact us for more information.

We do not have the proper facilities for treatment of raptors (hawks, eagles, owls) here.

However, there is a raptor rescue located near Kettle Falls. If you have an injured bird of prey, please contact one of the following:


For general questions, or to sign up for email reminders for your pet's vaccinations, please feel free to contact us at inquiries@chewelahveterinaryclinic.com.