What to do if a wild animal needs help?

Injured deer, lonely squirrel, swallow on the ground

What to do if a wild animal needs help?

Fawns are laid down in the meadow by their mothers. They are usually not in distress – unless the meadow is being mowed.

Bonn/Hünfelden/Hamburg . A small, barely feathered bird hops along the ground, a fawn seems to be lying abandoned on the meadow, a tiny squirrel runs after walkers. Many a walker, cyclist or jogger will again be faced with the difficult question this year: What to do? Leave the animal to itself? Take it to the vet? Call animal rights activists?

“A wild animal that seems lost is not always dependent on human help,” says James Brückner, a specialist in species and nature conservation at the German Animal Welfare Association in Bonn. “This is the case with a whole range of wild animals, especially in spring, during the so-called breeding and settling season.”

Most people would rather not meet a wolf in the wild.

Wild encounter: correct behavior towards wild animals

If you suddenly come across a wild boar or even a wolf while walking in the forest, the shock is great. But running away is not a good idea. So what to do?

When animals don’t need help

Is the animal not obviously hurt, it should therefore be observed from a distance first so that it does not become stressed and frightened by human contact. In addition, it could be that the parents are already nearby, but do not dare to see their offspring because of the people.

For example, there are feathered ones waiting that have not yet fled fledglings likes to sit on their parents in branches or other sheltered places, who feed them reliably. fawns or boy hares are suckled by their mothers at most twice a day, they spend the rest of the day alone in the tall grass. “These animals usually don’t need any help,” says Brückner.

When animals need help

An emergency is against it when animals are obviously injured, weakened or apathetic. Also sitting on the floor, still unfeathered birds need help. The same applies to already feathered ones swallows or swifts on the ground who would not settle there without need and for baby squirrelswho are lying on the ground, are easily caught or even run after people. Some even climb up the trouser leg. In such cases, the animal should be taken with you. If you are unsure, you can call a wildlife station and ask.

Exception: Attention poachers

However, there are also exceptions for injured or sick animals, for legal reasons. Wild animals that fall under hunting law, for example Foxes, deer, rabbits and wild boar, are the responsibility of the hunting authority or the tenant. Anyone who takes such an animal commits poaching. If a walker finds an injured piglet or a sick fawn, for example, he must inform the responsible authority, for example the forester.

When should you not touch animals?

piglets and fawns should also not be touched, because then they may no longer be accepted by their mother. “It’s best to tear off the grass to touch the animal with it,” advises Ilka Pissin from the wildlife station in Hünfelden, Hesse. Straw or hay are also suitable. If you have gloves with you, you can also use them.

birds, squirrels or hedgehogs are not bothered by the human smell. So if someone finds a bird that has fallen out of its nest or is sitting near a road, they can safely pick it up with their bare hands and carry it to safety.

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How to transport the animal?

In order to transport the animal to the doctor or to a wildlife sanctuary, it should be as safe as possible for the journey in a kind of nest to be packed. It is advisable to go in beforehand veterinary practices call, because not every veterinarian has experience with wild animals. If he or she treats the animal, he may Costs bill the finder. “But he doesn’t usually do that,” according to Pissin’s experience. Sometimes wildlife sanctuaries use the money in their donation accounts to pay their vet bills.

Help from experts

Under no circumstances should a found animal simply be taken home with you, because without expertise it usually cannot be nursed back to health. On the contrary, the situation of the animal can worsen. “Never give food or drink, never give cow’s milk and preferably not feed without first talking to experts,” Pissin lists the most important rules.

In their wildlife station, she and her fellow campaigners take in animals from squirrels to weasels and wild cats. There are such reception centers all over Germany, and the local veterinarians usually know the contact addresses.

But the same applies here: First of all, you should call the wildlife station. “They are often overcrowded and cannot accommodate any more animals. In addition, not all positions are geared towards all animal species,” says Sven Fraass from the Animal Welfare Association in Hamburg. But it is definitely worth calling the stations, because the experts can arrange further contacts and give the finder information on how to deal with the animal.

In lighter cases, the finder can find himself take care of the animal under the guidance of an expert, according to Fraass. It can only be released back into nature when it is healthy. If released too soon, all effort was for naught, and the animal is likely to die.

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However, there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to reintroduction, as James Brückner from the Animal Welfare Association explains. “Wild boar, wild rabbits and species classified as invasive such as raccoons or Egyptian geese are allowed not releasedbut have to be housed permanently,” he explains.


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