On this week’s episode of Dr. K, a few of the animal clients are a little more wild than usual. A red-shouldered hawk is brought in by a local raptor rehabilitator, a brown pelican is treated for frostbite and a blue jay is treated for injuries from a cat. While these animals are not pets, Dr. K helps the animals get the treatment that they need so that they can return to the wild if possible.
While on occasion someone from the general public brings in an injured wild animal and pays for their care, there are also organizations that specifically care for these animals. Dr. K’s office often works with The Wildlife Care Center in South Florida. The organization’s mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate, and release native wildlife that has been harmed or displaced.” Like many wildlife rehabilitation organizations, they also work to educate the public about the animals that surround them. Not all veterinarians will allow injured wildlife to be brought into their clinics, so knowing where the licensed rehabilitators are located in your area can be helpful in an emergency.
What to Do When you Find an Injured Bird
It isn’t unusual for hawks and owls to be struck by vehicles when they are hunting alongside of the road. Being near human habitation can sometimes be perilous to wildlife, such as in the case of “Kevin,” the blue jay who was injured by a pet cat. If you find an injured bird, however, there are a few things that you can do to give it a chance to recover.
According to Audubon, the best thing to do if you find an injured bird is to gently place it in a covered cardboard box. Then place the box in a cool place that is protected from pets and away from danger. Wild birds are easily stressed and often die from shock when injured, so a quiet place is important to recovery.
If the bird has hit a window, it may recover all on its own if given time. Audubon also recommends that good Samaritans do not try to force feed and give water to the bird. If in a few hours, the bird seems to have recovered and is ready to fly, you can release it. If it still looks unsteady and injured, then it is time to find a licensed rehabilitator. It is not legal to keep most wildlife at your home.
A quick web search should help you find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, but you can also check the Wildlife Rehabber website in the United States or the Wildlife International website if you are searching internationally.
Wildlife rehabilitation is regulated by state and federal wildlife agencies and rehabilitators hold the permits or licenses which make it legal to possess wild animals for rehabilitation and release. A licensed wildlife rehabilitator has been trained to provide specialized care and increase the likelihood that the animal will return to the wild.
Find out more about the challenges of treating and caring for wildlife and see how Dr. K helps these beautiful animals get back on the mend. Tune in to Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER: Kink-Achoo on Saturday November 8 at 10PM et/pt.