If you find a wild animal needing help…

  1. Be very, very cautious.  Rescuing native animals is a rewarding activity, but it can also be dangerous, both for the rescuer and the animal. Every animal rescue is unique, and every animal is unpredictable.
  2. Consider your own safety first. Do not handle any wild animal unless absolutely necessary, and then, as little as possible.
  3. Wait, watch, and evaluate.  When you find an animal that appears to be in distress, it’s important to fully evaluate the situation. You must first determine if the animal truly needs to be rescued.

Especially in the case of babies, make sure this animal really needs to be rescued.

    Do not rush into rescuing baby animals…you may unintentionally “kidnap” the babies from their mother. The last thing you want to do is rescue an animal that does not need help. Baby animals are much better off with their mother. The probability of a baby animal staying alive drops significantly after its care is taken over by humans.
  • If you find a non-feathered baby bird and it is uninjured and seems healthy, try to put it back in its nest.  The parents will not reject their baby just because you’ve touched it.  If it is injured, please keep it warm and bring it to Native Animal Rescue as described below.
  • If you see a feathered, non-flying young bird on the ground, observe it from a distance.  You may discover a wary parent nearby.  Many species of birds give their babies “ground training” before they can fly.  If a bird parent is seen and there are no cats around, leave the young bird alone.  Otherwise, follow the instructions below to bring it to Native Animal Rescue.
  • Only rescue baby mammals when you are sure the mother is not coming back or you know it’s injured or in danger.  Mothers of many species such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, and wood rats leave their babies for several hours to forage before returning to nurse them.  If you’re sure the baby needs rescuing, provide warmth and take it immediately to Native Animal Rescue.
  • To reunite baby squirrels, put the baby or babies in an open box with something to keep them warm and place the box near where you found them, often at the base of a tree. Play recordings–found on the internet–of baby squirrels’ noises. Frequently, these sounds attract the mother who may come and retrieve their babies. Carrying one at a time with her mouth, she takes them back to the nest or an alternate nest. This technique also works for raccoon babies, but it is done after sunset because raccoons are nocturnal.
  • Do not rescue fawns unless you are absolutely certain the mother is not coming back. Nine out of ten times the mother has hidden the fawn while she forages during daytime. She may not return until sunset. Call NAR for guidance on how to determine it the fawn needs to be rescued.

If you are not certain the baby needs rescuing, call
Native Animal Rescue for advice at (831) 462-0726

Do not attempt to rescue large adult animals without the guidance of a rescue professional. Before attempting to rescue adult deer, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and birds of prey contact either Native Animal Rescue at 831-462-0726 or Santa Cruz County Animal Control at 831-454-7303.

Instructions for rescuing orphaned babies and sick or injured adults are provided on this website.

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map to location

Native Animal Rescue        1855 17th Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062