When concerned citizens encounter injured or orphaned wildlife they often are not aware there are permitted wildlife rehabilitation centres that can help. In Alberta the only facilities that are legally permitted to give long term care to injured or orphaned wildlife are wildlife rehabilitation centres. Not all wildlife rehabilitation centres are permitted to handle every species but all centres work together and will see that the patient gets to the appropriate facility.
Veterinary clinics, if they choose, may offer emergency care at no charge to the public. Unless they have a wildlife rehabilitation permit, they may not offer long-term care.
Just as with humans, the first few hours after the injury are the most critical and the sooner the patient receives treatment the better chance there is for success. Something as simple as a warm, dark place and the administration of fluids can mean the difference between life and death.
* I Have Found an Injured Wild Animal
When attempting to aid an injured wild animal or bird always remember your safety first. In most cases the following procedure is the best:
- Cover the patient with a towel, coat, or blanket
- Transfer them, towel and all, to a cardboard box with no air holes and close the lid
- Keep the animal warm, dark, and quiet
- Never feed an injured patient until you've received direction from a wildlife hospital
- Contact a wildlife hospital (403-728-3467) for further instructions as soon as possible as delays may cause further illness or death in your patient
- If you are unsure or fearful to approach a wild patient, or the patient is a larger or more aggressive species, please stay with it and call a wildlife hospital for help.
The following are a few common injuries and how to deal with them:
MRWC's protocol when a bird hits a window is to put it immediately into a small cardboard box with a towel for support. Put the box in a warm, quiet place for approximately 1 hour. If the bird is active and flies away strongly when the lid is opened, then it was merely stunned. If it is unable to fly after the rest period, the impact may have caused internal bleeding or broken a small bone in the shoulder. Further treatment will be needed.
Oiled or Dirty Wildlife
Oiled or dirty wildlife is best wrapped in a towel with only their head protruding so they cannot preen and end up ingesting whatever product is on their feathers or fur. Pack them securely into a cardboard box so they cannot move, cover the box, keep in a quiet, warm place and call a wildlife hospital where they will receive proper washing and treatment.
Orphaned ducklings can easily be placed with other duck families but in most cases they must be placed with the same species of duck. Medicine River specializes in fostering orphaned waterfowl and can relocate the orphans for you. Orphaned ducklings are extremely "stressy" and must not be handled or played with. Keep them in a small box with a towel and a heat source to snuggle into. Never give them a large pan of water to swim in. When they are stressed they may lose their waterproofing if put in water and when they get wet and cold, death is very likely.
Cat Caught Birds
Even a small puncture from a cat's claws can introduce bacteria that can kill a small songbird in as little as 48 hours. Keep the bird warm, dark and quiet and transport to MRWC to begin treatment with antibiotics as soon as possible. Shock from the cat maul is also of serious concern.