Injured and Orphaned Wildlife

a guide

an eastern screech-owl with one eye

Sick or Injured

babybird

Baby Wildlife

The Great Plains Nature Center does NOT take injured or orphaned wildlife, but here's what you can do.

Help wildlife by...

  1. Never bringing wildlife into your home.
  2. Doing everything you can to keep young animals with their parent(s).
Four young opossums in a rehabilitator's care.
These young opossums are being raised by a licensed rehabilitator because their mother was hit by a car.

Sick or Injured Wildlife

Keep an eye on the animal; birds that fly into windows may be stunned and can be moved to a safe location while they recover. Leaving the animal alone is often the best course of action. They have an amazing ability to recover from injuries that seem quite serious, and being handled by humans can make an already stressful situation worse.

Licensed Rehabilitators can help in those rare situations that could use intervention. Find a list of current wildlife rehabilitators at Rehabilitation Services in Kansas.

an eastern screech-owl with one eye

Young Wildlife: How to keep them with their parent(s)

I see babies, but no adults. (Raccoons, fawns, rabbits, opossums, etc.)

Perfect! Leave them or return them to where you found them. The adult is doing their job. Either the young are already on their own, as is often the case with opossums, or the adult is nearby and returning later.

Mothers have been reunited with their young days later simply by returning the young to the place they were found.

11ANE12 1a

A baby is out of its nest!

Let's get the baby back home!

  1. Leave baby squirrels by their tree. Mother squirrels will retrieve the baby and bring it back once they know it's safe, so keep your distance and wait. You can put the baby in a box at the base of its tree or in a low branch to keep it safe.
  2. Return baby rabbits to their nest. Place a 2' X 2' or larger piece of flat wood over the nest, with the wood perched on bricks or other material so that the parent cottontail can get to the youngsters but dogs or cats can't.
  3. Is the nest still there, and can you reach it? Perfect! Just put the baby back in its nest ASAP. The parents will take it from there.
  4. Is the nest destroyed or unreachable? Make a new nest! Put the babies in a basket or tub and attach it to a branch with zip ties, wire, or whatever else you have around. Adults should take care of them as normal. Do not move the babies inside where the parents can't see them.

Be aware: fledgling birds will continue hopping out of the nest as they explore and learn to fly. If the young bird has most of its feathers, just leave it alone and keep an eye on your pets for the next day or two until they learn to fly.

In rare situations where these options aren't possible, like a hollow tree being cut down with owlets inside, you should call a licensed rehabilitator.

The adult caring for them is dead.

If you know the adult is dead and cannot care for the young, this may be a situation for a rehabilitator--if you can safely access the young. Find a list of current wildlife rehabilitators at Rehabilitation Services in Kansas, at the bottom of the page.