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Wesselman Nature Society is not a licensed rehab facility, and therefore cannot receive injured or orphaned animals of any kind. More times than not, the best answer to what to do if you come across any type of wildlife with no obvious signs of injury or illness is to leave it alone. Because we do understand the desire to aid animals that are in apparent trouble, a list of local rehabbers can be found here.

What To Do If You Find….

Baby Birds/Waterfowl

Depending on the season, birds found on the ground may be new young fallen out of the nest, or new fledglings learning to fly. The first thing to access is the bird’s feathers. Baby birds will usually still be covered mostly by white or grayish fluffy downy fuzz, whereas fledglings will usually have majority of their adults feathers. If the bird has downy and appears to have fallen out of the nest, look in the nearby trees , bushes and scrubs to see if you can easily spot a nest. If no nest can be found, or only part of the nest is left, you can line a coffee can or small basket with the nest remains and small towels. Then attach the makeshift nest to a branch. This will get the vulnerable baby off the ground. Also, the mom is probably close by and will be back to check on and feed the chick. Waterfowl chicks can simply be hidden within nearby brush until the mom returns.

If the bird appears to be older, but still on the ground, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Unless there are obvious injuries or signs of illness, the bird will recover and attempt to fly again. Most fledglings can even climb back into the tree, if need be.

Baby Mammals

It is not uncommon to come across an unattended nest of baby bunnies, a den of skunk kits or even a little fawn in a field. Most times, the mothers will actually leave their young for periods throughout the day to forage for food. She will usually stay fairly close and even make regular trips back to the babies to check in. This is the main reason most young animals are born with camouflage and the instinct to stay put when mom is gone.

If you are experiencing various animals such as raccoons, skunks, opossum, and even deer within your neighborhood and yard, please DO NOT shoot or injure these animals. Please remember that it is us that are actually invading the natural habitats of many of these animals with urbanization. Therefore, a lot of wildlife have no other choice but to take up territory within areas of wilderness also inhabited by people. The best advice to aid in controlling the amount of interaction and sightings of these animals is to cut down of their foraging opportunities within your neighborhood. This includes bringing in any pet food that may be outside, securing trash bins and composting, and eliminating any obvious areas that could be used as den sites, such as under sheds and in attics.

Turtles

If you find a turtle with a dome-shaped shell, it is a box turtle and spends majority of its time on land. Turtles that have a flatter shell and more webbed feet are aquatic turtles that are mainly found in wetlands or near lakes and ponds. In Indiana, it is actually illegal to pick up and/or keep an Eastern Box Turtle. Therefore, the only time that any turtle should be handled is to move it from off the road, in the direction it was heading. This law, along with the fact that turtles naturally have a built-in area map of the 3 sq mile home range in which they live, is the main reason you should never relocate a turtle. As a general rule, if you come across any type of snapping turtle, LEAVE IT ALONE and give it space. Most of the time, these animals will move on their own and are usually only aggressive if provoked.