As the weather warms and people spend more time outdoors, they sometimes come in contact with seemingly “orphaned” wildlife. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division urges residents to not ‘rescue’ these animals.
"Despite good intentions, young wildlife taken into captivity can lose their natural instincts and ability to survive in the wild,” explains John Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division assistant chief of game management. “In most instances, young wildlife that appear to be helpless and alone is only temporarily separated from adults. This natural behavior is a critical survival mechanism. Adults spend a significant amount of time away from their offspring to minimize predation.”
Persons not licensed and trained in wildlife rehabilitation, should not attempt to care for wildlife. Georgia law prohibits the possession of most wildlife without a permit. If you encounter a seriously injured animal or an animal that clearly has been orphaned, please contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
A list of licensed rehabilitators is available at www.georgiawildlife.com/special-permits-unit (select “Wildlife Rehabilitator List” from this page). You may also contact a local Wildlife Resources Division office to find a rehabilitator.
Wildlife, Disease and Your Home
Handling of any wildlife or bringing them into the home poses health risks for both people and domestic pets. Despite the fact that they make look healthy, wildlife can transmit life-threatening diseases such as rabies and can carry unhealthy parasites such as roundworms, lice, fleas and ticks. Certain ticks are especially known to transmit diseases such as ‘Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever’ and ‘Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness’ to humans.
Protect yourself and your family. Contact the local county health department and/or Wildlife Resources Division office if you encounter an animal such as a bat, fox, skunk, raccoon, coyote or bobcat that appears to show no fear of humans or dogs, or that seems to behave in a sick or abnormal manner (i.e. weaving, drooling, etc.). The animal may be afflicted with rabies, distemper or another disease. Do not attempt to feed or handle sick animals. Pets, livestock and humans should be kept away from the area where the animal was observed.
The two most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your pets from rabies is 1) get pets vaccinated and 2) avoid physical contact with wildlife. As another precautionary step, adults should instruct children to NEVER bring wildlife home.