"Can I Keep It?" Rescuing Wild Animals

In almost every case, it is illegal to keep a wild animal. If you are found out, chances are, the animal will be confiscated and euthanized, due to your well-meaning efforts to "help". To keep a wild animal, for any length of time, for any reason, requires a special permit. Most cities and many counties have passed local ordinances that prevent individuals from keeping wild animals in captivity. Songbirds and birds of prey are protected by Federal law and have fines of $15,000 up, and jail time. Nests and feathers of songbirds and raptors are protected as well.


People tend to be so excited about their new addition, they post pictures on the web; sooner or later, it will be brought to the attention of law enforcement, and not only will your baby animal be confiscated, but you possibly face a hefty fine, or jail time.

A lot of times, the mother has not abandoned her baby at all, she is close by, keeping an eye on her off-spring, and is just waiting for you to leave so she can go back to her baby.

Wildlife laws are made not only to protect native wildlife, but also to protect the general public. Native wildlife species are protected by state laws, federal laws, or both. Even as a baby, these animals can be carriers of a large number of diseases and parasites communicable to humans and household pets. Diseases such as rabies, Lyme disease, roundworms, and tuberculosis are just a few. If you or any member of your family is scratched or bitten, that animal is required to be euthanized and tested for rabies, because tests on live animals are not possible. People trying to help wild animals sometimes receive serious injuries. Many expect an animal to recognize their kind intentions and love. Yet, the fear that is natural in the animal is the key to their survival.


Sometimes young animals become imprinted and dependent upon their human captors, and if released back into the wild may become a nuisance, or simply die because of the human interference in their lives that prevented them from learning critical survival skills (how to recognize and find food, recognize predators, how and where to establish their living quarters before they are released back into the wild). Most young animals need to be raised in the company of their own kind for proper social and behavioral development.

In addition, wild animals deserve the best possible care which requires expert training and knowledge considering that each species has specialized needs. Orphans require individual diets and formulas to grow strong and healthy.

If you find a baby animal, that you believe has been abandoned; leave it where it is, unless it is in clear danger, (i.e., from being run over on the road). Keep a watch on it from a distance; if need be, place it in a basket of some type to prevent it from crawling off, and watch for the mother to come back to it. Do not feed the baby. (CAUTION: especially do not feed the baby cow's milk of any kind!) If the weather is extreme, place a heater nearby, and wrap the baby gently in some flannel or some other type of fabric. If the mother does not return, you can contact your local Game and Fish Dept., your local Animal Control Officer, the Humane Society, or any veterinarian. You can also look up Wildlife Rehabilitation Services in the phone book. Any of these people should be able to help you find the rescue group that you need, for the particular animal that needs help.


You may well ask yourself what all this has to do with saving money. The answer is: the fines that you will not incur by taking in an illegal animal; also, if you do get a license to take care of this animal, it can REALLY cost you some money, just for routine care.

Source: I got a lot of my facts from Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, as well as other sources on the internet.

By one.of.a.kind

Anonymous Flag
August 27, 20100 found this helpful

Excellent advice and one more reason not to rescue wild animals is because most people take them in for a time and then tire of their well meant rescues and then release them back to the wild and these sweet beings are no longer able to survive on their own because they've been humanized and that's far more cruel than not having rescued in the first place. :-(

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August 28, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks for taking the time to post. :)

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August 28, 20100 found this helpful

I second Deeli's comment. We rescued a single surviving bunny from a nest a cruel neighbor boy had stomped. The poor critter's leg was broken, but we didn't know how to help. In my ignorance and desire to ease its pain, I gave the bunny a little aspirin. Worst thing I could've done, and I'm still not sure why because I still know nothing about bunnies and pain meds. Long story short, the aspirin killed the poor thing. Wish I'd been wise enough to call the wildlife office.

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August 28, 20100 found this helpful

Excellent information. Wildlife Rescue has a network of people who are skilled and trained in rehabilitating these wild animals.

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August 29, 20100 found this helpful

Yes, but even rescuers lose a great deal of them, even the non protected birds such as starlings, which it is legal to keep them, but if they have been scratched by a cat, it is a deadly bacteria from the cat to the bird, and without the antibiotic the rehabbers have it will die. A lot of them die with the best of care.

I appreciate all the love and care and especially money that people who are trained to give care to these animals spend on them because the government or state doesn't help.

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October 18, 20100 found this helpful

The problem of getting old is we forget a lot of what life has already taught us. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for the information. I hope the younger parents will teach their families to respect all nature. GG Vi

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November 23, 20110 found this helpful

I always keep up with Birgit at Rainbow Wildlife, she updates us all the time on facebook.


She does streaming videos of her babies and she is a great teacher of all things wild. She is an excellent rehabber, and she has a video somewhere on there about the life of a wildlife rehabber.

I am amazed at how many permits and things you have to do, and then after t hat, all of it is out of your own pocket. Wildlife Rehabbing is definitely a labor of love. They have a chip in too. for all of you who want to help wildlife and yet don't have permits.

I am always taking rabbits and birds, etc to our local wildlife rehab. We have one over here nearby. I love watching the rehabbers heal and raise the wild ones and I am so glad when they get to be released!

On another note, the rescue just moved to a different city and if you want to you can get involved and help them...it is a wonderful opportunity!

This was a great article!


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