The past week has been especially tough here at the rescue. We are experiencing an increased amount of wrongful rescues. The purpose of a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization is to take in, care for, and release wild species back into their natural environment in a timely manner. Agencies such as SCDNR and DHEC allow us the privilege to do what we do as long as we follow the laws and regulations set forth to protect not only the wildlife in our state, but also the humans. We are trusted, based on our training and experience, to make the right decision for any wildlife situations that come our way. If these agencies trust us, you should, too.
When you call our rescue we will ask a series of questions about the species you have found and we will instruct you on the best option for that species. Please listen to us. Please answer our questions accurately. We base our advice on the information you give us. We do not make up advice on the spot or only tell you what we think you want to hear. We have cared for dozens, if not hundreds, of the species you call us about. We understand the internet may say something different than what we advise. We understand your grandmother may have raised one of those babies when you were a kid. If you choose to do something other than what we advise, the outcome is your choice and your responsibility.
It is our responsibility as a wildlife rescue to keep all wildlife wild. If you find an animal alone please do not assume it is orphaned or abandoned. In the wild kingdom, parents do not stay with their young. Parents are usually nearby and probably won’t try to intervene while you are kidnapping their babies. Adult animals have a scent that can attract predators. Adults are also very visible to predators. The parents stay away and return only to feed in an effort to keep the location of their young a secret. Believe it or not, we can tell if a baby has recently been fed by the mother! Years of experience have taught us what to look for and how to know if a baby has any nutritional needs.
It is not inhumane to leave a wild animal in the wild to wait for its parents. These animals live in every weather situation you can imagine. They survive everyday with other wild species lurking around. It is not our job to question where a doe has left her baby. It is not our job to protect wildlife from the heat, from other wildlife, or from pets.
Speaking of pets, it is not the job of a wildlife rescue to save wildlife from your pets. If there is a fledgling on the ground learning how to fly and you are afraid your cat will get it then simply bring your cat inside for a few days. That bird is in the last stages of becoming independent from its parents and bringing it in to rescue dramatically lessens its chance of survival. Afraid your dog will bother a fawn who has been parked in your yard? Keep the dog inside or crated until the fawn leaves. Sometimes these dogs and cats are not pets, but strays who roam around and are a threat to wildlife. If that’s the case let us know and we will be happy to have the strays relocated to a local animal shelter or rescue.
NEVER EVER feed a wild baby. Feeding wildlife the wrong thing even one time can be fatal. We know the nutritional needs of the species we work with at the rescue. We would much rather get a hungry, dehydrated baby than one who is slowly and painfully dying from improper feeding.
Also, feeding wildlife can lead to other consequences. Example: If you feed a species that is a high risk carrier of rabies and you have had contact with the animal’s saliva or it has bitten or scratched you – even a tiny scratch – we are obligated under laws in our state to euthanize and submit that animal for disease testing. We do work to protect wildlife, but human and public safety are our responsibility, too.
And while we are talking about public safety, sometimes we might refer you to another rescue because our vet cannot treat a specific species or injury. This is not us refusing to help. This is us sending you to the best place possible for the species you have found.
What do you do if you found orphaned or injured wildlife? In South Carolina, contact a wildlife rehabber right away. We will instruct you on what to do next. Do not remove the animal until you talk to one of us. If the animal is in immediate danger and you can safely move it, be sure to wear gloves – and if needed eye protection – and put the animal in a container with air holes for ventilation. Crates will work for larger species. Be sure to note the exact location where the animal was found.
Getting orphaned or injured wildlife to a rescue is the responsibility of the finder. Once you have talked to us and we determined the animal does need care we will help you find the closest rehabber to you.
If we ask you to leave the animal where you found it we expect you to LEAVE THE ANIMAL WHERE YOU FOUND IT. Remember mamma will not return if she can see you. Her instincts will not allow her to show you where her babies are hidden. Some species, like fawns and raccoon, need to be left all night.
We encounter a lot of myths about wildlife. The most common is that if a human has touched a wild baby the parents will reject it. This is an old wives’ tale, probably invented to keep kids from picking up every animal they find. We return babies that have been exposed to human scent all the time and the parents continue to care for their young.
We are invested in the wildlife in our state. We are dedicated to doing not only what is best for the wildlife we are called about but also what is RIGHT. Please help us educate others about the importance of knowing when to rescue a wild animal, but most importantly knowing when to NOT rescue.
The Humans & Critters of PTH Wildlife