Why do we treat injured wildlife?
We love being nestled in the middle of Big Sky Country! We are here to help you with your pets, but our passion extends to all Montana’s creatures. We hope the following information will be helpful to our community so we can all help keep Montana the ‘Last Best Place!’
Each year, we have tons of Good Samaritans in our community who call for guidance in helping potentially injured or distressed wild animals. Moore Lane is happy to help with all of your small animal needs, including those of injured wildlife. However, in the spring, many baby animals are often mistaken for injured wildlife. Here are some tips to help determine what to do when you find potentially injured wildlife:
Safe Handling Tips
Public safety is always our first concern when dealing with wildlife. Do not approach any animal that appears aggressive in nature. Wear thick leather gloves and attempt to put the wild animal into a cardboard box or disposable container. Many wild animals carry diseases that are transmissible to either you or your pet. Do not risk your own safety when attempting to help a wild animal. Although it may be tempting, we recommend that you do not allow your children to hold or touch a wild animal.
- For larger mammals that can potentially carry the rabies virus, contact Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. It is unlawful to keep or attempt to rehabilitate these animals without a license to do so. Examples include raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes.
- For large game animals, we also recommend you call Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Although we would love to play a larger role in helping injured game, we do not have the capacity to do so at this time.
- For birds of prey, like raptors or owls, we rely on the Montana Raptor Center (MRC) in Bozeman. MLVH is happy to provide temporary care and sanctuary for the bird while MRC arranges transport.
MLVH is always looking to partner with other licensed and reputable rehabilitation centers in the area that specialize in helping certain animals. Whenever possible, we will utilize the more specialized rehabilitation source to try to ensure the best chance of survival for all Montana’s creatures.
What to do if you find an injured small mammal or bird:
If the animal has an obvious injury or was brought to you by your cat or dog, the community is welcome to relinquish the animal into our care. Our veterinarians evaluate the animal and our staff will attempt to rehabilitate the wildlife until it is safe to release back into nature. If the animal is suffering and we are unable to treat the injuries, we will humanely euthanize the animal.
If a baby animal is found unattended, the general rule of thumb we follow is “if you care, leave it there.” Often times, people mistake a normal situation in nature to be an abandoned baby.
Rabbits only return to their young at night and feed them only once a day. It is not uncommon to find a nest of baby bunnies with no mother in sight. Bunnies can be extremely difficult to rehabilitate, and their best chance of survival is with their mother. Unless they are injured or an animal is attacking their nest, they should be left alone and mom will return.
If you happen to find a baby bird hopping around, the first step is to see if the bird has any feathers. If the bird does not have any feathers, or just a few, it’s a nestling. In this case, carefully help the nestling back into the nest. It’s a common misconception that the parent will reject the baby from your smell by touching it; birds don’t have a sense of smell! If the baby has feathers, it’s a fledgling. This is a common sight during the spring months when fledglings are learning to fly and are still being cared for by their parents. The parents are likely close by watching, helping them learn to fly and how to get back into the nest.
Baby squirrels are most often found when they have fallen out of their nest. If the baby has a fluffed out tail, it is a juvenile and should be left alone unless the baby is injured or sick. If the baby doesn’t have a fluffy tail yet, the best option is to try to find mom. Place the baby near the closest tree and keep pets away. From a distance, watch to see if mom returns. If she doesn’t, then we recommend bringing them in for us to provide care.
Baby ducks are typically not left unattended. If you find a lone baby, try to observe the baby and ensure your own pets aren’t allowed contact. If the mom doesn’t return in a short time, we recommend bringing them in for us to provide care.
Have you found an injured animal?
Please contact us immediately. We’re here to help. Thank you for being so kind and bringing them to us.
Contact our friendly staff today!
24/7 ER Services
Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
*Select Evening Appointments Available*
Sat: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Sun: No Regular Appointments (ER Only)
Have questions? We’re here to help!