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Injured and Young Wildlife Frequently Asked Questions

What should you do if you see a sick or injured animal?

Call ODFW, OSP or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before picking up or moving any wildlife.

What should you do if you see a young animal alone?

Leave it where it is. Most animals leave their young to forage or hunt. Removing a young animal from the wild is illegal and greatly reduces the animal’s chance of survival.

If you see a bear or cougar, contact ODFW or OSP.  Do not attempt to assist it or assume that it has been abandoned.

Removing or “capturing” wildlife from the wild and keeping it in captivity without a permit is against the law. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,250 fine.

Why can’t I just pick it up and take it home to care for it?

Wild animals belong in the wild. Feeding an animal the wrong food could harm or kill it. In captivity, animals lose the chance to learn critical survival skills such as where to find food and shelter and how to escape from predators. They are much less likely to survive once returned to the wild. Keeping an animal also habituates it to people. Animals that lose their natural fear of people can dangerous.

What happens to young animals that are removed from the wild?

ODFW first assesses the animal’s heath. Animals with a good chance of survival may be placed with licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities with the intent that they will be returned to the wild.

Occasionally, a young animal that can’t be returned to the wild is sent to a zoo or appropriate facility if one can be found. Sick and injured animals that can’t be returned to the wild may be euthanized.

What if you see a fawn or elk calf by itself?

In spring, Oregon’s deer and elk give birth to their young and you may see a fawn or calf alone. Do not approach it and leave the area. Mothers leave their young for extended periods to feed and so they don’t draw attention to them. Fawns and calves are generally safe from predators because of their lack of scent and their protective coloring. Your presence and your human scent may frighten the mother away and endanger young.

What if you see a young bird on the ground?

Leave it where you found it. If it is young and you are concerned that it fell from the nest too early, you may try to return it to its nest, if possible. A feathered fledgling bird may spend weeks on the ground as it learns to fly; its parents will feed it there. A fledgling may be returned to the nest if there are cats or dogs in the area, but it will probably be back on the ground quickly. Keep pets confined or indoors at this time. Visit the Audubon Society of Portland’s website for more information.

What if a bird flies into a window and appears hurt?

Birds don’t recognize glass and are confused by reflective surfaces, causing them occasionally to fly into windows. If you find a bird that has been stunned as a result of hitting a window, put the bird in an uncovered box. Keep it in a quiet place outdoors away from pets and check back in a couple of hours. If the bird has recovered, it will have flown off. If not, contact a local ODFW office or your local wildlife rehabilitator.

What should you do if you see a seal pup on the beach?

Young seals are often left on the beach while mothers feed in the ocean. Don’t touch, feed or try to move it. Stay back at least 100 yards and make sure dogs are leashed.

What if you see young rabbits, raccoons and squirrels alone?

Leave them alone. Almost always, the mother knows where they are. Often times, mothers return at dusk or during the night to feed them.

More information is available on the ODFW Living with Wildlife Web pages.


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