Some people will never find any injured wild animals during their lifetime, but if you are living in a rural area, or have an outdoor lifestyle, you will have more chance of coming across a distressed or injured wild animal. Many people are unsure of what to do if they come across an injured animal on their travels. In this article, we will outline what you should do if you ever happen to come across an injured wild animal.
What is classed as a wild animal?
In the UK, we class a wild animal to be any animal that is not kept as a domestic pet. A wild animal isn’t tame, and lives and thrives on its own (or within a group) without the help of humans. Deers, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs and birds are all examples of wild animals living in the UK countryside.
The first thing you should do when you come across a wild animal that you believe to be stressed, injured or unwell is to study the animal for several minutes to assess just how injured they are. Be especially careful that you don’t scare or stress out the animal further – humans can feel very intimidating for them. Wild animals can bite, scratch and kick when they are frightened.
Use your common sense
It is important to use your common sense when around injured wild animals, and trying to help them. The RSPCA gives the following guidelines:
- Don’t handle, lift or transport injured deer, seals, wild boar, otters, badgers, foxes, snakes, bird of prey (including owls), swans or geese.
- Never lift a wild animal, unless you are sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others.
- Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife – pollutants like oil can be hazardous.
- Keep the animal away from your face.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal.
- Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road.
- If you find a whale, dolphin or porpoise on a beach call the RSPCA immediately. Keep a safe distance and don’t touch the animal.
- Never try to free an animal from a snare or trap. You will risk hurting yourself and the animal and it could be an offence if the animal was legally caught. Stay back to avoid stressing the animal and call us with the location.
Catching a wild animal
If you feel it’s safe to catch and handle a small animal, put on suitable gloves. Work quickly to place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with towel or newspaper. Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal).
If you feel nervous about catching and taking the animal to the local vet or wildlife rehabilitator yourself, call the RSPCA. They will send out their nearest officer to help the animal. However, please be aware that this will take a considerably longer time than taking the animal yourself. Of course, if the animal is particularly large or very stressed, then you won’t be able to take it yourself.